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Topsy-Turvy is also a movie written and directed by Mike Leigh, about the world of Topsy-Turvy opera in London on the 19th century.

"Gilbert: Every theatrical performance is a contrivance by its very nature.
Sullivan: Yes, but this piece consists entirely of an artificial and implausible situation.
Gilbert: If you wish to write a Grand Opera about a prostitute, dying of consumption in a garret, I suggest you contact Mr Ibsen in Oslo. I am sure he will be able to furnish you with something suitably dull.
" - film script.

With beautiful sets and careful production, the film is a visual orgy. After reviews less than flattering and audiences growing thin, famous composer Arthur Sullivan and writer William Gilbert - superstars of Topsy-Turvy plays find themselves in a creative crisis and an exhaustion of themes. Sullivan is played by Allan Corduner and Gilbert is played by Jim Broadbent.

The search for new elements and new hits drives Gilbert & Sullivan to write a masterpiece about Japan, "The Mikado". We seen the conception, creation, production and all the intrigue behind the stage, with the divas, the ego battles and the costumes. Sullivan wants to write *serious* music, but Gilbert is quite comfortable with routine plots. The theater owner (their employer) wants to keep the mass audiences entertained and thrilled, making them come back several times - and also wants Gilbert & Sullivan together.

The pair had been working in partnership for a decade and London loved them. To separate them would mean a serious loss of audience. After visiting a japanese fair under the influence of his wife, Gilbert conceives The Mikado. Sullivan joins him and they have a new play. The actors, accostumed to work for them and quite proud of it, are delightful. Egocentric, intriguing, proud and delicate, they prove enough scenes of theater diplomacy.

And then there's the music. During rehearsals, we get to hear extracts from the new and old plays, with the perfect choreography as a side dish. The plays and most of the characters are based on real-life Gilbert & Sullivan, the biggest hit in London during the 1880's.

This is a very unique movie in Mike Leigh's career, as his other works are usually very intimate and visually simple. Most of his themes also show the problem of class struggle and humanity.

Main cast:
Allan Corduner
Francis Lee
Jim Broadbent
Lesley Manville
Martin Savage
Stefan Bednarczyk
Sukie Smith
Timothy Spall
Wendy Nottingham
William Neenan


The top side the other way ; i.e. the wrong side upwards ; some explain it, the top side turf ways, turf being always laid the wrong side upwards.

The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

Top"sy-tur"vy (?), adv. [Earlier topside-turvey, topsy-tervy; probably for top so turvy; that is, the top as turvy, as it were turvy; where turvy probably means, overturned, fr. AS. torfian to throw.]

In an inverted posture; with the top or head downward; upside down; as, to turn a carriage topsy-turvy.


© Webster 1913.

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