STEPHEN Sondheim's Pacific Overtures is not often performed but thanks to a beautifully presented production at the Union Theatre I was left wondering why.
The story is set in 1850s Japan where a community fears the colonial ambitions and influences of the West and America in particular.
Having dispatched the Dutch some years earlier, Japan has now banished any foreigner entering its shores because they fear their culture and sovereignty will be eroded if not.
This splendid isolationism extends to anyone leaving the country and it is enforced particularly harshly.
But when an American warship looms over the horizon a lowly fishermen is sent to urge them to turn round and go home. But they don't listen.
An invasion brings treachery, deception, murder, Samurai revolts and ultimately social change.
Michael's Strassen's production is made up of an all male cast clad in next to nothing and with white face paint.
The story is interesting and well told and although the score is clearly not easy it is performed well by the on-stage musicians.
Many of the cast play multiple roles and there are some fine performances from all involved particularly Ian Mowat as the Old Madam, Emmauel Alba as Manjiro the fisherman, Ken Christiansen as the Reciter and Oli Reynolds as the chief Samurai.
It is an incredibly entertaining piece of theatre, beautifully staged and well choreographed and proves once again that you don't need to go to the West End to see a musical done brilliantly.
The Union has clearly not lost its golden touch.
Pacific Overtures is on at the Union Theatre, Union Street, until August 2. Tickets cost £20. Visit www.uniontheatre.biz or call the box office on 020 7261 9876.