Duo at peak of their powers in Patience

Craig Arme as Bunthorne in Rose Hill Operatic Society's production of Patience
Craig Arme as Bunthorne in Rose Hill Operatic Society's production of Patience

Rose Hill Musical Society’s production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience is to be staged at the Guildhall Theatre from March 18-22.

Evening performances start at 7.30pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

First performed in 1881, the long-running Patience came after The Pirates of Penzance and was followed by Iolanthe, when the partners were at the peak of their powers.

Gilbert this time satirised the contemporary “aesthetic movement” led by Oscar Wilde and others, who wore flowery clothes and “walked down Piccadilly” carrying a poppy or a lily. The opera’s target is really affectation and hero-worship.

Reginald Bunthorne, a poet, is being pursued by 20 love-sick upper-class maidens who were previously engaged to members of the 35th Dragoon Guards, but he only has eyes for Patience, the down-to-earth village milkmaid. The Dragoon guards are not best pleased by the situation, and the position is further complicated by the arrival of another poet, Archibald Grosvenor.

The ladies, with the exception of Lady Jane, find Grosvenor even more attractive than Bunthorne and this eventually leads to a confrontation between the two poets.

Meanwhile, the officers of the Dragoons try to regain the affections of their former fiancées by abandoning their uniforms in favour of the flowery outfits worn by the poets. Carrying lilies, they adopt aesthetic postures rather awkwardly, but this ploy succeeds in winning back the ladies.

Eagle Award winner Craig Arme stars as Bunthorne, the poet who recites his own ridiculous verses to the adoring ladies, but who, when alone, confesses that it is all affectation “born of a morbid love of admiration”.

Patience is played by Nicola Harris. Allister Jordan plays Archibald Grosvenor, Bunthorne’s rival, and the three officers of the Dragoon Guards are experienced performers Peter Featherstone (Colonel Calverley) and Brian Meese (Major Murgatroyd), with David Fletcher playing his first leading tenor role as the Duke of Dunstable.

The leading lovesick maidens are Sue Leahy, another Eagle Award winner (Lady Angela), Angela Martin (Lady Saphir), Paula Bettison (Lady Ella) and Jayne Brewster-Beard as the formidable Lady Jane.

Beverley Graham directs her sixth Rose Hill show, musical direction is by Margaret Slater and Carl Smith is the conductor.

Tickets (Tuesday £10, Wednesday £11, Thursday to Saturday £12) may be obtained from Peter Featherstone on 0115 9258717 or by emailing peter.featherstone4@ntlworld.com