Cal McCrystal on Iolanthe: 'It deserves to be as fruity as we can possibly make it'

Does Gilbert and Sullivan need updating for our changed times? Cal McCrystal explains why his joyful new Iolanthe contains not a single lecherous peer but plenty of feisty fairies

I’ve never been a fan of the theatre laugh – the polite one audiences do when they know there’s a funny bit they should acknowledge. What I go for is the genuine belly laugh – the sort you can’t control that leaves you banging your head on the seat in front. When English National Opera invited me to direct a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, I knew I wanted a production that was silly, joyful and – despite their association with Victoriana – still relevant.

I was only familiar with one or two of G&S’s operettas, so I set about reading and listening to all of them during a summer in Bagnols-en-Forêt. Perhaps it was the southern French countryside that put the idea of a fairy glade in my mind, but Iolanthe leapt out at me. I think it appealed to my sense of humour. It tells the story of Strephon, the son of a fairy, who is in love with Phyllis, a ward of court. Unfortunately, the Lord Chancellor and the entire House of Lords also have their eyes on Phyllis.

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Source: theguardian.com
Cal McCrystal on Iolanthe: 'It deserves to be as fruity as we can possibly make it'