The crew of the Pinafore is hard at work on the quarterdeck polishing and generally fettling the ship prior to the arrival of the First Sea Lord. The ship is anchored just off Portsmouth (where else?), and at high noon, Little Buttercup (or Mrs Cripps as her alternative name (?)) the bumboat woman arrives with various victuals and comforts for the crew - even herself if she plays her cards right... Dick Deadeye and Ralph Rackstraw are there with the crew. Dick is a distorted kind of man, ostracised by the crew, humpback, ugly, you name it, he has it, and Ralph is our clean living young hero (this role would require great audience imagination, knowing our lot). Now Ralph (pronounced 'Rafe') is in love with the Captain's daughter, and she just isn't in his class. Enter Captain Corcoran to sing the famous song with the lines 'What never ? Hardly ever!' He will NOT have bad language from his crew. What a funny sailor.

Now comes the Admiral on board ship, accompanied by his 'sisters and his cousins and his aunts'. This is the female chorus. In another popular and well-known song he tells us how he rose from being an office bow to Admiral of the Fleet. A creep. He does not allow bad language, and believes that the Navy may be best run by not swearing and shouting at the crew. Capt Corcoran has followed this to the letter. To prove the point, the Admiral picks out a sailor at random (Ralph Rackstraw) and asks if this is indeed the case. The man stands up for his officer (he knows which side his bread is buttered), and the Admiral and Captain retire to the Captain's cabin. With those two absent, the crew is free to talk; Ralph, as his shipmates know, is in love with the Captain's daughter Josephine. He would like their vote of confidence, as he is about to tell the Captain of his feelings. He has been inspired by the Admiral's little speech about the innate nobility of every British tar, thus implying that a sailor is as good as an officer any day.... The sailors exit, leaving Ralph by himself. Guess who now enters? Yes, Josephine. She also loves Ralph as much as he loves her, but as this is Victorian Britain, neither can say so to the other. He takes courage in both hands and pours out his love in a song, and indignantly she does the only thing possible - she rejects him. A funny lot, these repressed Victorians. He decides to end it all and gets a pistol, but in the nick of time Josephine clocks this and runs fearlessly into the crowd of sailors shrieking that she does, after all, love him. They decide to elope at the dead of night to where a clergyman will marry them without delay, but Dick Deadeye reminds them of the rules of Society that forbids such widely differing classes from marrying. Everybody ignores him in the general merriment. End of Act one.

Act two opens with the Captain by himself in the moonlight singing. He is listened to by Buttercup. He wants Josephine to marry the Admiral, but his daughter wants none of it; she wants Ralph. Buttercup reveals her presence to the great man, and lets drop that if rank had not divided them, she could quite fancy him. Enter Sir Joseph. He wants an explanation to Josephine's apparent lack of interest in the First Lord. The captain, his mind on other things, suggests that perhaps the girl thinks Sir Joseph is too highly placed for her. Perhaps a word from Sir J about how lovew levels all would be appropriate. Off goes Sir J to do this, and Josephine, gettin the wrong end of the stick is delighted... Dick Deadeye now creeps to the Captain and lets out about Josephine and Ralph eloping. The captain now swears a naughty word, and Sir Joseph overhears this. 'Tut tut' he says, and confines the captain to his cabin. On hearing about Ralph and Josephine, he puts Ralph into chains.

Enter Buttercup to sort out all this mess; when she was young, she used to take in babies to make a living, and she had in her charge, one Ralph and one Capt Corcoran: one was highborn and the other low, and guess what, she mixed them up. This has the effect of making Ralph the captain, and the captain a lowly seaman - with Josephine now being 'common'. Consequently, Sir Joseph doesn't want to know, and she settles happily with Ralph. All ends in the usual way.

We did this show in 1986, and it has the advantage of one set and one costume; Historically MUGSS have discarded it on the grounds that it is a bit short (although I heard nobody complain about that when we DID do it) and the difficulty of a suitable set (usually on the grounds of cost....) Ours was set 'in the future' on the deck of something like (though not a lot) the Starship Enterprise... The girls had on bikinis/bathing cossies or suitable beach attire, later put a skirt around it to make it a little more respectable. (This all for 'Over the bright blue sea' entering down the auditorium like the Peers did for Iolanthe). The sailors had white shirts, navy blue sweaters and black trousers. Dick Deadeye (played by Maurice) was a sort of Compo character - wellies, scruffy holed jersey and a wooly bobhat. Directed by one Jonathan Adams - now professionally known as Jonathan Alver.

The 2000 production included Trial by Jury, with the cast and set changing on stage at the end of Pinafore.