Utopia Limited: February 1985
Music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert
Utopia, Limited; or, The Flowers of Progress, was the second-to-last of Gilbert and Sullivan’s fourteen collaborations, premiering on 7 October 1893 for a run of 245 performances. It did not achieve the success of most of their earlier productions.
Gilbert’s libretto satirises limited liability companies, and particularly the idea that a bankrupt company could leave creditors unpaid without any liability on the part of its owners. It also lampoons the Joint Stock Company Act by imagining the absurd convergence of natural persons (or sovereign nations) with legal commercial entities under the limited companies laws. In addition, it mocks the conceits of the late 19th-century British Empire and several of the nation’s beloved institutions. In mocking the adoption by a “barbaric” country of the cultural values of an “advanced” nation, it takes a tilt at the cultural aspects of imperialism.
Produced by Frank Doran