THERE have been many adaptations of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best-loved operettas, HMS Pinafore, with songs such as A British Tar and He Is An Englishman having a special place in the heart of many fans of the Victorian duo.

A brief glance on Wikipedia shows that some versions have taken place in the strangest of surroundings, with some based around the setting of Star Wars or Star Trek.

Sasha Regan’s production boldly goes where plenty of adaptations have been before, with an all-male production set in the belly of a Second World War ship with an overtly camp spin.

But all Victorian sensibilities about the theme of the show were thrown away early on as there was no way of watching this without going with it.

After an agonisingly slow start – it seemed the cast were pacing around forever before any words were said – the first few songs sailed along steadily before Neil Moors burst in as Captain Corcoran and brought the musical to life.

There was a lot asked of the male actors playing the female characters, especially Alan Richardson, who had to hit many high notes as Josephine, but they did it superbly.

With a simple stage where ropes acted as walls, and the cast amusingly throwing themselves into the pit of the stalls, it was an enjoyable evening. You could tell by the atmosphere in the auditorium that the audience was heartily enjoying the operetta’s two flagship songs.

This reporter overheard one member of the audience saying that they couldn’t imagine a female cast doing a better performance.

HMS Pinafore is on at the Theatre Royal Winchester until Saturday. Click here for tickets>>