1994 H.M.S Pinafore

H.M.S Pinafore
Performance dates: 
8th-9th April 1994
Performance times: 
Evening Performances 7.45pm, Matinee Performance 2.30pm
Location: 
Cordes Hall, Sunninghill
Synopsis: 

Synopsis Act 1 

HMS Pinafore, a "saucy" beauty of a ship in her majesty's navy is anchored at Portsmouth. Its sailors are busy returning after shore leave and saying goodbye to their wives and girlfriends. Josephine Corcoran, the Captain's daughter comes on board and embarrassingly bumps into Ralph (properly pronounced as Raife) Rackstraw, a navy topman. They scuttle away from one another. The proceedings are watched by little Buttercup, a Portsmouth bumboat woman, and her troupe of "Portsmouth ladies" hoping to do some business with the sailors after their families have left. Once they have left little Buttercup tries to sell her wares, including her ladies. to the sailors. She hints at a dark secret when talking to Dick Deadeye, the ships cheeky chappie and all round "jack the lad", The young and handsome sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, tells of his love for Josephine. Dick Deadeye, however, to the disgust of the rest of the crew, reminds him that Captain's daughters don't marry foremast hands! Captain Corcoran then embarks, reintroduces himself to his crew and cheerfully reminds them that he never uses foul language and is never ever sick at sea well, "hardly ever." Little Buttercup, who is madly in love with the Captain, sees below the surface however, and notices that he is in fact out of sorts. He tells her that his daughter josephine is sought in marriage by Sir joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty, but is not enthusiastic about his attentions.

He is comforted by Buttercup's concern and empathy. Josephine with a full heart but empty hopes is encouraged by her father, the Captain, to look kindly upon Sir joseph's wishes that she become his wife. She shocks her father by confessing that she loves a lowly sailor on board his own ship but then reassures him that she will, out of duty, never tell the sailor of her love. 

Admiral Sir joseph Porter arrives attended by his many sisters, cousins and aunts including his loyal cousin Hebe completely love sick for the Admiral's attentions. He explains that he rose to the top post in the Navy by sticking close to his desk and never going to sea. Dick Deadeye wheedles his way into the First Lords confidence and, adopting the First Lords belief that "a British Sailor is any man's equal" insists that the Captain attaches the phrase "if you please" to his orders. The Captain and Sir joseph retire below to discuss the proposed marriage leaving the crew with a song, composed by the First Lord himself, and designed to encourage "independence of thought and action in the lower ranks of the Navy". Ralph, the Bosun and the Ship's Carpenter sing the song until it is hijacked by Dick Deadeye and spiced up! Ralph much moved by Sir joseph's expressions of equality finds josephine alone on deck and summoning up far too many words for the occasion declares his love for her. She very reluctantly, but haughtily, rejects his love because he is not part of her class. But when Ralph threatens suicide, she relents and admits that that she does love him. With the crew and the sisters, cousins and aunts assisting, the lovers plot to elope that very night despite Dick Deadeye warning the pair of the impropriety of their plan and being ejected from the ship by Little Buttercup for his trouble.

 

Synopsis Act 2

On board HMS Pinafore, after dinner, there is dancing including a hornpipe much encouraged by Sir joseph. Captain Corcoran continues to pour cold water on josephine's ill starred love for Ralph and she is much distressed. Her father is also distressed by the turn of the events which include the threat of a court martial from Sir joseph. Believing himself to be alone he soliloquises to the moon about his situation. He is, in fact. accompanied by Little Buttercup and Hebe both

pining for the men they love. little Buttercup reveals her affection for the Captain but he tells her that because of her low rank he can never be more to her than a friend. She, in turn, hints darkly that a change is in store for him, and that "things are seldom what they seem." Sir joseph returns with Hebe complaining that josephine does not favour his suit. The Captain, and Dick Deadeye, deliberately eaves dropping as he swabs the deck, comfort him by suggesting that perhaps josephine is dazzled by his lofty station and suggests that he plead his cause on the ground that "love levels all ranks". Hebe over stating her support for Sir Joseph is roundly rejected by him and escorted below deck. A saying of Dick Deadeye "Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady" galvanises Sir Joseph into action and he determines to woo Josephine. Josephine is torn between doing her duty and following her heart. When wooed by Sir Joseph she considers how eloquently his expressions of equality have justified her decision to marry Ralph!

Sir Joseph and her father, however, are convinced that she has been won over to their side. Dick Deadeye finds the Captain alone and reveals the planned elopement. They both disguise themselves as the ship's cat and lie in wait for Josephine, Ralph and the crew, who steal in "carefully on tip~toe . " The Captain confronts the elopers but is initially taken aback by their expressions of love coupled with patriotism. He is so exasperated that he actually swears a foul oath: "Dam me!" which shocks everybody on board and is overheard by Sir Joseph. Judging first and asking questions later he orders the Captain to go to his cabin for such "ill-advised asperity." Upon inquiry, Sir joseph finds out that Ralph and josephine love one another and orders the"cheeky" sailor to the brig. Affairs are interrupted by Little Buttercup, who discloses the long-concealed secret she has harboured which turns what's happened on HMS Pinafore completely on its head. In a plot twist that even stretches the boundaries of the topsy turvey world that WS Gilbert loved to inhabit all ends happily with 3 marriages and a promotion for Dick Deadeye that even he could not have imagined.

Cast list: 

Performed by Various members of the Sunningdale Savoy Chorus. a full cast list can be found in the programme

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