This song was originally the establishing solo for Wilfred Shadbolt, the Head Jailer and Assistant Tormentor at the Tower of London and unwanted suitor to secondary female lead Phoebe Merrill. Had this song actually been included, it would have made Wilfred, who in the final version is little more than a comic stooge, a much more intimidating and frightening character. It is one of the most daring and disturbing songs Gilbert and Sullivan ever wrote, as perverse and kinky as you could conceivably get away with on the Victorian-era stage, which presumably had something to do with why it was cut. It revels in Wilfred’s frustrated lust for Phoebe and his obsession with pain and torment in a way that suggests the two are not entirely unrelated, which is particularly unnerving given that by the operetta’s end, he has succeeded in forcing her to marry him. The fact that they even considered including this song just shows how different Yeomen really is from their other operettas, and how much more serious and ambitious they really meant this material to be.
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