In a bizarre twist of political correctness, a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, due to be staged in New York this December has been cancelled for fear that that portrayal of the Japanese characters might cause offence. Admittedly, it would appear that non-Japanese performers were going to be made up to look Japanese. Pretty unimaginative really, tasteless possibly, but should that have caused cancellation, or transmogrification into The Priates of Penzance? Might modern day pirates not take offence at they way they are portrated? What if it became Iolanthe? Fairies might get really upset.
Has nobody from New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players seen the long-running Jonathan Miller production at English National Opera? Not a single soul made up to look anything other than British. For there’s the rub – G & S were poking fun at, and sending up contemporary British society. They were simply using a fashion fad of their day to do so. Maybe the company should bear that in mind and look for a modern-day metaphor. Mark Zuckerberg as The Emperor perhaps?