The Yeomen of the Guard tells of Colonel Fairfax, regarded by all in the opera as a hero, who is imprisoned in the Tower of London and is to be beheaded for alleged sorcery. His accuser is his cousin, Clarence Poltwhistle (surely one of the great names in G&S) who stands to inherit Fairfax's estate on his death. Two things happen to thwart Poltwhistle's plan: firstly Sergeant Meryll, a yeoman, decides to free Fairfax from jail as recompense for Fairfax saving his life twice over; and secondly, Fairfax decides to marry in order to change the terms of the will. Elsie Maynard and Jack Point, two travelling players, happen to be visiting, and Elsie is desperate for money to save her ailing mother. The offer of 100 crowns for an hour's marriage is too good to be true and she consents to marry Fairfax just before the time fixed for his execution. Unfortunately for her, Meryll's rescue plan is successful and Fairfax is freed disguised as Meryll's son Leonard, leaving Elsie a married woman - to the consternation of Point and herself.
To try to gain favour, Shadbolt (the jailer) claims to have shot Fairfax dead
and is backed up in his false claim by Point, who would get Elsie back with
her husband dead. With Fairfax apparently out of the way, the real Fairfax (disguised
as Leonard) shows Point how to woo Elsie - but too convincingly for Point, for
Fairfax and Elsie declare their love for each other. Whilst this happens, Wilfred
and Point's deception is discovered by Phoebe (Meryll's daughter) and Dame Carruthers
(whom Meryll has been avoiding for years). To keep all happy and quiet, Phoebe
reluctantly agrees to marry Wilfred, Meryll the same with Carruthers and Fairfax
and Elsie remain happily betrothed. Only poor Jack Point remains unloved, and
he falls insensible with grief.
||Me as the aged Sergeant Meryll.|
And with my family - my son Leonard and daughter Phoebe "Alas! I wander to and fro".
||The Warders parade as Dame Carruthers questions "Warders are ye - whom do ye ward?".|
Photos by Mike Kwasniak - Ipswich 719002