p 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

4 images by Malcolm Crowthers 

As a photographer, the lure of catching fishskin trousers glinting under theatre lights grabbed me hook, line and sinker. I simply couldn’t resist - I bit the bait! But playwright Elizabeth Kuti was full of surprises in her new play, Fishskin Trousers, getting its world premiere, skilfully directed by Robert Price, at the intimate Finborough Theatre. The only glint of fishskin is in your imagination, but boy does it shine! The magic of this play is the power of its words. Unusually for London’s theatre today this is a monologue play for three characters, onstage throughout, each telling their own story. While they never interact and are separated by different centuries, we soon discover that their lives ingeniously intertwine like currents in the sea, bound by the mysterious myths of Orford.  Each character utterly draws you in. We first meet Mab, a 12th century serving girl, whose life is intertwined with the Wild Man of Orford, actually her web-footed brother captured in a net and cruelly tortured by the locals, vividly portrayed in an arresting Suffolk accent by Jessica Carroll. Cut to bright-eyed bushy-tailed Ben, a highly animated Australian radar scientist working on Britain’s secret Cold War radar system, Cobra Mist, whose cheery façade hides a betrayal that Brett Brown delivers with heart stopping emotion. Lastly, lights up on Eva Traynor as Mog, a primary school teacher in the early noughties, who has a devastating dilemma that torments her and totally engages the audience. These actors have mastered the art of storytelling so well you feel yourself underwater with the characters as much as on land as their stories interweave and you’re dragged into the net. “These are mammoth, emotionally challenging and very exciting roles for an actor” says Brett Brown, and I couldn’t agree more. Their delivery of these vast, compelling, intercutting monologues, which require the greatest technical virtuosity, left me in awe.  Until September 28  www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk  

Special performance of Fishskin Trousers at St Bartholomew’s Church, Orford, Saturday October 26, 2013. Info: www.orford.org.uk/fishskin-trousers-26th-october

Catharine Rogers in George Lloyd's first opera Iernin

Catharine Rogers is intensely commanding singing the huge title role in George Lloyd's first opera Iernin, a Cornish legend of a fairy doomed by love of a man, who turns to stone rather than live in a world of hate. With her very own elfin Lord of the Rings hair, Catharine Rogers is compellingly fairy-like and particularly thrilling in her mad scene. Written by a young man barely out of his teens, Iernin is a sumptuous opera from the inter war years inspired by Verdi and Donizetti, with a dramatic film score sweep, haunting melodies and rich colourful orchestrations vividly performed by Surrey Opera soloists and chorus conducted by Jonathan Butcher and directed by Alexander Hargreaves. Its first staging since its premiere in 1934, it is a rare opportunity to experience this very English grand opera. Trinity School Theatre, Croydon, Surrey CR9 7AT, Thurs 24 - Sat 26 October, and on 1 & 2 November, St John’s Hall, Penzance, Cornwall TR18 2QR.


20 images below photographed by MC

Calixto Bieito’s last production at ENO was Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni had a cock to kill a horse. Before that it was Verdi’s A Masked Ball. It opened with a row of chorus men in black suits, trousers down, sitting reading newspapers on the lavatory. Now comes his Carmen, a cat-in-heat thigh-spreading blonde, oozing sex, yes a blonde – “You can’t have a Carmen who doesn’t have black hair” shouted one old gentleman at another on the first night. But women in Spain today dye their hair blonde, and Bieito has pulled his world famous Carmen production, which won him the Italian Association of Music Critics Award last year, right out of any pretty 19th century stage Spanishness into a robust rough 1980s poverty stricken post-Franco Spain of testosterone fuelled soldiers, bovine hunks and gangland criminals. Carmen has sex on cars, sex on the beach, and sex tied to a flagpole as she works her seductive skills on her soldier captor José and escapes. Knives flash among battered vintage Mercedes (with Spanish number plates and left hand drive!) which almost steal the show when they appear. Their headlights pierce a predawn mist to frighten away a naked toreador practising his moves under the towering black silhouette of a billboard bull, as they roll onto the stage with their roofs piled high with contraband, iMacs & all, to gather in a ring in a stirringly beautiful stage image. True to Mérimée’s novel, Bizet’s Carmen incites lusts, passions and jealousies to such a murderous degree that the frenzy climaxes with her own blood being spilt on the sand by her maddened rejected lover José at the very moment the crowd in the bullring is heard applauding her new lover the Toreador for bringing down the bull. With Bieito’s Carmen you step into the bullring of life through a director who understands the brutalities of the world. It’s a Francis Bacon bullring of passion and pain played out in a painted white circle on a bare stage of trodden sand, strong atmospheric set design by Alfons Flores. Cars, sex, violence, brutality, love, lust and death is the Hollywood film industry recipe for success. This has it all except you see it live, plus every tune is a hit. The singing and acting is superb, the cast led by Ruxandra Donose (Carmen), Adam Diegel (José), Elizabeth Llewellyn (an outstanding Micaela), & Leigh Melrose (Escamillo the bullfighter). The ENO chorus surpasses itself jumping and singing with gusto while Ryan Wigglesworth is like a young Solti in the pit achieving terrific intensity, attack and momentum, but also revels in all the subtle nuances of Bizet’s ever changing play of mood. It was like he took a bullwhip to the orchestra the way it sprang to life with an Overture of sizzling excitement and drive. No chance of the Coliseum becoming a bedroom with this Carmen! 

Barbe & Doucet - From Model to Stage

For a few years, Canadian creative team of stage director/set & costume designer Barbe & Doucet intrigues the opera world with stimulating productions.
They have opened their files for us, and we discovered that their stage models occupy an important part in the process of creation and delivery of such slick productions. 
According to Barbe & Doucet the goal of building very precise stage models is, besides showing their ideas, to help the different departments of the scenic shop to achieve the artistic team’s unic vision and approach of an opera production. It stimulates the builders, the painters, the props makers to use their own imagination to go beyond the plans and technical requirements to discover new ways to achieve the sometimes quirky and unusual demands Barbe & Doucet bring forward to them.
This season we'll be able to see their work on both sides of the Atlantic.

Many thanks to Barbe & Doucet for opening their files to FACADES - www.barbedoucet.com

11 images above from: La Cenerentola by Klaus Lefebvre, Rusalka by Dimo Divov, Iphigénie en Aulide by Alain Kaiser

Japanese Theatre Does Greek Opera

Waiting for Orestes: Electra 

by The Suzuki Company of Toga @ The Edinburgh International Festival'12 (King's Theatre) - Supported by The Cultural Agency of Japan

Elegant, stylish, powerful, Japanese traditional theatre modernized and applied to Greek Opera can indeed be quite different yet effective.

Minimal yet bold simplicity with a touch of humour by the creative use of wheel chairs- topped with dramatic beating of the drums, as well as the intense performances of the actors made this production a unique and captivating show.

3 images above courtesy of Edinburgh International

p 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11