Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



THEODORE C RICE: Surely plenty of room for interpretation of character. There are at least two ways to play Point, Fairfax, Elsie, and Phœbe, just as there are the two ways to dispose of Point at the end. Point can be either pitiable or a schemer; Fairfax admirable, gallant, or a philanderer; Elsie as the slave to duty or as an opportunist; and Phœbe as willing to toss up her virtue to anyone she considers worthy, or too dumb to realize that Wilfred will as surely get himself shortened as anyone else, if he blabs.

SARAH MANKOWSKI: I have noticed that performers are quick to come to the defense of their own character. Also, I have seen several comments such as, In this scene I wanted to soften his/her lines. Now, as a non-performer, I don't get it. If you soften your character too much, aren't you denying them the complexity that makes them so fascinating in the first place? To love a character, must that character always be lovable?

PHILIP NOLEN: Moral ambivalence is a distinctly human quality, and one which is absent from most of WSG's other characters. Let us treasure the ambiguity of this piece!

It is not the actor's place to judge whether his character is fit for Heaven or Hell-all the characters in The Yeomen Of The Guard feel that their actions are perfectly justified by their wants and needs. I am convinced that Fairfax does not believe he is being "evil" or "mean" when he toys with Elsie; he does so simply because it gives him pleasure-he does not judge himself. Neither should the actor. Let the audience draw what conclusions they may.

IAN HOLLAMBY: I enjoy playing characters who are not necessarily 'lovable' in the accepted sense. For myself, I would never 'soften' a character's lines, why should I? The complexity to which you refer, must be kept intact and indeed provides a greater challenge to the performer than any 'safe option'.

As the saying goes, 'The Devil has all the best tunes'!

Page created 6 June 1997