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Love, Lust and Laughs: The Mike A. Do in Review

“A comical story about love, marriage, rank and senseless lawmaking” – foreshadowed writer Jamie Cijez. The Mike A. Do recounted a pertinent narrative through farcical quips and tuneful cheer. Based on the renowned Savoy opera, ‘The Mikado’, the Gilbert and Sullivan Society adapted this timeless piece to match the eccentricities of our beloved town. 


The production was widely accessible; tickets were purchasable on a pay-what-you-can basis, with prices ranging from £8-12. Premiering on Tuesday 26 March and running for 3 consecutive nights, The Mike A. Do drew crowds down the steps of the Byre Theatre.


The performance recounts the story of star-crossed lovers Blossom, played by Selma Bystrand-Straumits and Nancy Lou, portrayed by Lizzie Conran. Set in the Kingdom of Fife, their love is impeded by an absurdity of laws enforced by Mike A. Do (The Dictator), characterised by Danny Spiezio. The musical tackles sombre issues such as suicide and capital punishment through contrastingly spirited plot lines and energetic vocals.


The adapted script itself played a significant role in driving the rehearsal process. Director Matthew Colquhoun and writer Jamie Cizej remained in collaborative communication, revising lines, and altering words to match any syllable incongruities, all without sacrificing the overall character of the show. Cizej, a self-proclaimed Victorian Operetta enthusiast, hoped to “make everyone aware of the brilliance and humour of this 19th-century gem”. As a more accessible alternative to classical opera, Victorian Operetta allows for all to engage with its rich opportunities. Cizej believes that The Mike A Do epitomises this accessibility for both actors and the audience, describing the final piece as “goofy, unexpected and cheeky”. 


This playful nature relied upon strong vocals, which effectively steered the cheery pace of the show. The lyrical role of the three little maids, played by Selma Bystrand-Straumits, Elle Hale and Lucy Hindle, stood out as exceptionally compelling. Their high pitches immediately entranced the audience, rapturing them into the intensity of plot. Albeit the diverse vocals of the full cast did constructively harmonise together to create a powerful musical experience. A particularly effective rendition of “Behold, the Lord High Executioner” stood as a memorable highlight of the piece, due to its, all-encompassing vocal vigour.


In terms of the theatrics, the acting style remained highly caricatural. Through both aggrandised gestures and dramatised facial expressions, the actors aptly preserved the satirical tone of the piece. The characterisation of Co-co, played by Sam Morrison, was distinctly remarkable. His physicality and dialogue emitted an enlivening energy throughout. In this regard, it is fair to say we should in fact ‘all bow down to the Lord High Executioner’.


As a Fife-themed adaptation, The Mike A. Do’s relatability, both within the script and its underlying themes, was integral to its success. From the sporadic Sally Mapstone reference to Co-Co, the lord high executioner, proudly describing himself  “as a student from St Andrews I attended all KK events” – the script persistently delivered classic St Andrean banter. These contemporary jokes incited audience laughter (the latter in particular stirred some undeniable audience giggles). 


This use of comic relief was central to the piece, where constant uses of bathos lightened the dialogue. The unpredictable mid-song lowering of a disco ball, for example, ruptured the simplistic set design and contextually inspired costumes. These subtle interjections trivialised the sinister themes of the script.


Cizej explained how this duality was fundamental to the show: “It incorporates bigger societal issues in a humorous musical rhapsody, with the grandioseness of the music really only being a loose cover for the silliness that is occurring underneath”.

Photo: Olga Alonso Blanco

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