STAGE REVIEW: The Pirates of Penzance - at the Festival Theatre, Malvern, from Monday, September 3 to Saturday, September 8, 2019.

THIS is another welcome and eagerly awaited return to the county by the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company.

They did not disappoint as their piratical tale clearly delighted a near full house with an excellent performance of this comic opera about a group of would be ne’er do wells who were clearly, if not cluelessly, in the wrong business!

There’s a touch of the absurd about the constabulary men who attempt to thwart them, not that the pirates themselves are too far behind.

After all - how can a fierce band of Cornish cut-throats be so sensitive and tender hearted.

They make it a point of honour never to attack a weaker party, but are regularly soundly thrashed against stronger opponents.

Quality voices and first rate comic interpretation and timing is evident in abundance - all of which enhanced an evening that was full of effervescence and continuous great fun.

There’s even a bevy of beauties who deliver several excellent chorus numbers but the show’s main accolades are primarily shared amongst the men of uniform - Richard Gauntlett’s Major General Stanley, Matthew Siviter’s Pirate King and Matthew Kellett’s Sergeant of Police.

Plenty to admire too with our star-crossed lovers - Fredric, the pirate apprentice (David Menezes) and Mabel (Ellen Angharad Williams), all wonderfully and ably abetted by the National Festival Orchestra led by Andrew Nicklin.

Lighthearted and absurd, it has all the songs this opera is famed for such as 'I am the very model of a modern Major General', and the boys in blue informing us 'a policemen’s lot is not a happy one'. It also throws in a panto horse as the police sergeant attempts to learn of the pirates plans!

It all sounds daft, and it truly is a daft tale involving a ‘pirate’ out of his indentures, a leap year birthday and claims about orphans.

First performed way back in December 1879 in New York, it was well received, and here many, many decades on it’s popularity shows little sign of diminishing.

There’s even more G and S to come at the Festival this week including The Gondoliers on Thursday and Friday and The Mikado on Saturday. All promising more great entertainment. The Yeomen of the Guard was on Wednesday.