REVIEW: UMGASS presents Pirates of Penzance or, The Slave of Duty

Friday night, I had the privilege of seeing UMGASS’s presentation of Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty. It was such a great show – whimsical, cheery, and largely optimistic, I am officially an avid fan of UMGASS and the work that they do.

The play itself was actually pretty similar to what I was expecting for my first Gilbert and Sullivan show. The humor worked on so many levels. There was, of course, the absurdity of pirates in this bizarre setting in Cornwall, the main character Frederic having an identity crisis and wondering what a “true beautiful woman is” when all he has known is his charming yet elderly guardian Ruth, and of course who could forget the Major-General, an attested genius who asserts the depth of his knowledge while insulting his own at the same time. The whole concept is absolutely crazy.

The other operating level of humor was of course that of intellectually-based, political satire. Beginning with a rendition of “God Save the Queen,” audience participation insisted, we are immediately placed in a time period where everyone respects, yet mocks the queen to which they serve. Not to mention the lyrics of the songs are all at once brilliant and thought-provoking. It is almost too much to see it once and understand all that is going on in the show.

Job well done to the fine folks at UMGASS – can’t wait for what’s next!