INGENIOUS, funny and telling, this all-male version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta Iolanthe is both witty and entertaining at the Theatre Royal Windsor, writes Paul Thomas.

Director Sasha Regan has placed this version of the G&S classic in an even more surreal – almost Narnia-like world – by staging it in a room where naughty schoolboys with torches find a wardrobe full of items that take them into Iolanthe’s realm, there in which they stage the operetta.

Here, the fairy Iolanthe has been banished from fairyland because she married a mortal – this is forbidden by fairy law.

Her son, Strephon, is an Arcadian shepherd who wants to marry Phyllis, a Ward of Chancery. All the members of the House of Peers also want to marry Phyllis.

When Phyllis sees Strephon hugging a young woman (not knowing that it is his mother – immortal fairies all appear young), she assumes the worst and sets off a climactic confrontation between the peers and the fairies.

The piece satirises many aspects of British government, law and society at that time.

The confrontation between the fairies and the peers is a version of one of Gilbert’s favourite themes – a tranquil civilisation of women disrupted by a male-dominated world through the discovery of mortal love.

Great voices equate with such resonance in both the upper and lower octaves for these guys, the fairy high notes and peers’ lower range complementing an extremely versatile approach to a witty and imaginative story.

Musical numbers such as The Law is the True Embodiment, When I went to the Bar, When Britain Really Rules the Waves and It May Not Be, may not be as famous as some of the songs from HMS Pinafore or The Mikado, but they are nonetheless superb and hugely enjoyable.

Alistair Hill as the Lord Chancellor was just superb as was Christopher Finn as Iolanthe, half man, half fairy, but the entire caste was outstanding.

Iolanthe, Theatre Royal Windsor, tonight, Tuesday. Box office: 01753 853888.