Gilbert and Sullivan (pastiche)
Operetta in 1 Act. (1975)
Based on the Bab Ballad by W.S. Gilbert. Music arranged from the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and orchestrated by Stanford Robinson.
Written by Donald Madgwick.
The inhabitants of Stratford-le-Bow are gathered in the courtyard outside the post office run by Annie Protheroe. The ladies complain that she has stolen the hearts of all the men, but it transpires that she has given her troth to Gilbert Clay, the public executioner, so the men are free to court the ladies once more. This they do while awaiting the execution due to take place that very morning. Gilbert greets Annie with the news that his intended victim is to be Peter Gray, Annieís former lover, who has been condemned to death for flirting under a new law introduced after a recent visit to London by the Mikado of Japan. Annie begs Gilbert to spare Peterís life, but he refuses, consumed by jealousy and suspicion that Annie still loves Peter. He determines to use the execution to inflict a terrible revenge on his former rival, and takes Annieís best hatchet from the kitchen. When he reappears with it the blade is blunted, chipped and jagged. Annie declares that if he attempts to use this dreadful weapon on Peter Gray he will have to reckon with her, but Gilbert just laughs and goes to fetch his prisoner. The chorus reassemble for the execution, and the victim himself appears. At first he takes his fate calmly, but when Gilbert produces the hatchet Peter visibly quails. At the last moment Annie disappears into the post office and returns with a reprieve from the Home Secretary. She had withheld it after transferring her affections to Gilbert for fear that Peter, once reprieved, would claim her hand. Indeed, having once courted her Peter now has no choice but to marry Annie, under the law against flirting. Gilbert points out that all the men are under the same obligation, having been courting the ladies. A multiple wedding is hastily arranged, leaving Gilbert as the only remaining bachelor. As to flirt would oblige him to cut off his own head, he resigns himself to his solitary fate.