Topsy-Turvy is a wonderful period piece about a fascinating subject. As we open, back in 1884, the partnership of British composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner) and librettist William S. Gilbert (Jim Broadbent, superb), and their theatrical impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte (Ron Cook) is on the verge of breaking down. Their latest comic opera, Princess Ida, has been far less successful than their previous works like HMS Pinafore or The Pirates of Penzance. Their efforts to create a new operetta have run aground on the twin shoals of Sullivan's desire to be write serious music, not comic operas, and Gilbert's obsession with what his detractors referred to as "magic lozenge" plots. But one day, Gilbert visited a Japanese cultural exhibition in London, and from that visit came the inspiration for the creation of the best-loved, and best, of the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, The Mikado. The preparation for and opening night of that work are the core of the film. Director Mike Leigh did a marvelous job at evoking the Victorian setting, and the cast are superb, although, Broadbent aside, most of them are not well known in the US. Special mention must be given to those who were cast in the roles of the performers in the operettas, most of whom acquit themselves very well when singing as well as acting--I particularly enjoyed Martin Savage as George Grossmith (the "patter specialist" in the D'Oyly Carte company), Timothy Spall as Richard Temple (who played the title character of The Mikado) and Shirley Henderson as Leonora Braham (Yum-Yum in the original Mikado cast). Highly recommended.
"May the hinges of friendship never rust, nor the wings of love lose a feather"--Scottish blessing