A video of a 1982 performance at Canada's Stratford Festival (live, though with some singing dubbed), this is very much a theatrical experience, with the buoyancy of a show played before an audience. The cast and spectators take obvious pleasure in each other, and in classic Gilbert and Sullivan tradition, several numbers are encored. Subtlety is not this production's strong point, but you don't look to G&S for subtlety. As Ko-Ko, Eric Donkin doesn't exactly create a character. His performance is that of a vaudeville clown--he even wears a Japanese version of baggy pants. But his straight-to-the-audience delivery is irresistible. Gidon Saks plays the title role in Japanese-theater style, drawing out his syllables, rising to a scream at the end of a sentence. Though these mannerisms are a bit much, his demented tyrant of a Mikado is gripping and even spooky.
From the Back Cover
Described by critics as "scintillating," "exquisite," and "breathtaking," this version of the famous comic opera was a blockbuster hit at the world-renowned Stratford Festival. Cloaked in the guise of a Japanese musical drama, The Mikado is a spoof of Victorian English society. Centered on Ko-Ko (Eric Donkin), a lowly tailor, it chronicles his transformation from prisoner in a country jail to the rank of Lord Executioner. But Ko-Ko is plagued by a terrible quandary: the emperor (Gidon Saks) has instructed him to produce a head - or forfeit his own!