Is this the Coleraine Triangle?

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Although we may not care to admit it, many of us are fascinated with the romantic maneuverings of others.

The headlines of the popular newspapers and gossip magazines entice us with their salacious detail. Is it Brad and Jennifer or Brad and Angelina? Our soap operas too, keep us glued to the latest liaisons, whether they are on the Street, in the Dales or down the Eastend. Soon, everyone’s attention will be focused on the big question: Is it Yum-Yum and Nanki-Poo, or Yum-Yum and Ko-Ko? Few of us can resist the intrigue of a love triangle.

This has always been the way. The best tales of History or Literature usually involve the complicated twists of a good love story. Think of Lord Horatio Nelson, the hero of Trafalgar, and Emma, Lady Hamilton, the love of his life, even though they were both already married. Often, the themes of illness and dying reinforce the belief that true love is worth sacrificing everything for.

Take Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s 1847 novel set on the windswept moors of Yorkshire and the two doomed lovers, Catherine and Heathcliff, forced apart by tragic circumstance and only briefly reconciled just hours before Catherine’s death when finally they admit that they always loved each other even though they both had married others.

It was around this historical period that Gilbert and Sullivan originally wrote The Mikado, laying thick the requisite circumstance for a classic romance - it was set in a far off place; ruled by rich and powerful men, who lechered after innocent and beautiful maidens; but their intentions were thwarted by archaic laws, formal etiquette and general misunderstanding.

The genius of their collaboration was in exaggerating their own characters and plot in order to lampoon the populist and sensationalist stories of the day. They set their tale in Titipu in faraway Japan and introduced character names including Pish-Tush, Nanki-Pu and Yum-Yum! They introduced farce, pomposity and naivety in bucketfuls in order to maximize comedic effect.

In Hot Mikado, presented by Portrush Music Society in the Riverside Theatre from April 27th to May 4th, all the crucial elements are in place. The plot is the same, the character names remain; but the costumes, the musical styles and the language has been updated in order to enhance the familiarity and hilarity. This is a Titipu where the men are dressed in Gagman style and the women have stepped out of a Japanese Manga comic book to dance the Jitterbug to songs sung in the styles of Jazz, Gospel Blues, Disco and Pop. Neon and crimplene glitter in the paper-paneled tea rooms of this Titipu.

The complicated love triangle that everyone will be talking about involves the beautiful young maid, Yum-Yum, her lecherous guardian, Ko-Ko, and the son of the Emperor, Nanki-Poo. The Emperor’s son has run away from the imperial court in order to escape the amorous intentions of a conniving older woman. Ko-Ko plans to marry his much younger ward, Yum-Yum himself. Thinking Ko-Ko dead, Nanki-Poo returns to marry Yum-Yum. Ko-Ko arranges to kill Nanki-Pu but instead is then persuaded to marry the amorous older woman in order to save his own skin. All aspects of human nature are revealed in this fast-paced musical comedy. In the end, virtue is triumphant over all.

For some reason or another, most of us are a sucker for a love story. Here is one that is both funny and has a happy ending. It is not to be missed. If you wish to bask in some VIP treatment in your own life, you can visit the Portrush Music Society’s page on Facebook where you will find details of our VIP package with free Hot Mikado tickets, free make up consultation from Rhonda Newton, before being whisked off to your night out in chauffeured comfort courtesy of Red Carpet Cars to a free pre-theatre meal for two at Jackman and Pye.

Tickets and further information available from the Riverside Theatre box office, telephone 028 70 123 123 or online at www.riversidetheatre.org.uk.