IT is one thing to dip an occasional toe in Gilbert & Sullivan during carefree days at university. It is quite another to form a new company and stage a show when faced with the harsh realities of the real world.

But four University of York graduates have done just that, and Patience – receiving five performances this week – is the first fruits of their enterprise.

Patience is not an obvious choice for a debut production. It is not overburdened with hit tunes, and it cocks a snook at the foibles of the late Victorian era’s aesthetic movement, now long forgotten.

Yet therein lies much of its charm. It has not become hackneyed. And we all love taking the mickey out of pretentiousness, wherever it lurks, which is exactly what G&S did, and still do, best.

No-one should expect a new company to spring fully-fledged straight from the womb.

But this production, jointly in the hands of Helen Lay and Clare Rachel Greener, carries plenty of good omens for the future.

A presumably shoestring budget strips the stage of virtually all props, bar a painted backcloth and side-curtains. Hired costumes are nicely differentiated (suitably mock-mediaeval for the aesthetes) and an orchestra of 15 under Matthew Collins, though light on strings, maintains an upbeat underlay.

Elsewhere, the show keeps it simple, a good watchword at this stage in the company’s life. So choreography is minimal and choral actions uncomplicated.

The Rapturous Maidens swoon prettily and the Dragoon Guards, while clearly short on parade-ground drills, combine well with them chorally. Diction is exceptionally clear throughout the cast.

Up front, the trump card is Paul Blenkiron’s Bunthorne, a natural creature of the stage. His bonhomie is infectious, with sprightly gestures neatly integrated into his singing. Nick Lay as Grosvenor, his rival for the ladies’ affections, is not quite as physically disciplined, but engaging nonetheless. In the title role, Susan Blenkiron is rather well-groomed for a dairy maid, but once her nerves have cooled her soprano is most attractive.

Elaine Atkinson’s blowsy Lady Jane combines wittily with Bunthorne in So Go To Him, and the three officers – Samuel Valentine, Alastair Pollard and Stuart Roberts – are hilarious attired as aesthetes. Valentine also despatches his patter-song effectively. Fiona Bowman, Lois Cross and Clare Rachel Greener all bring distinctive qualities to the other Ladies.

The company’s foundations have been well laid.

Jorvik Gilbert & Sullivan Company in Patience; Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York until Saturday, including Saturday matinee. Box office: