I just love the way Opera doesn’t flinch from tackling big philosophical issues. It has the potential to wrench powerful emotions from its audience. Challenge them intellectually. Uplift them spiritually. It can be the Campest of Camp and yet still wring out a tear! It satisfies on many levels and offers what no other single art form can.
“Orphee” by Philip Glass is the final offering of the ENO’s (English National Opera’s) bold autumn season of four operas that explore different interpretations of the Myth of Orpheus. This Opera directed by Netia Jones is a groundbreaker, not least, because of the many talented women featured on the technical team. Lets hope it sets a precedent.
Philip Glass wrote this chamber opera in 1993, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s surreal classic 1950’s film of the same title. In it Cocteau depicts Orpheus as a faded narcissistic poet and examines ‘The Artist’s’ life, its successes, failures and obsessions. The films fantastically interweaved and mirrored subplot explores immortality and betrayal.
Glass uses the text of Cocteau’s film as a libretto for his opera, and footage of the original film is projected throughout, behind the onstage action. This, accompanied by Lizzie Clachan’s mainly monochrome set (occasionally punctuated by dazzling crimson) Daniella Agami’s expressive concise choreography, and Lucy Carter’s subtle, atmospheric lighting, sets the scene for an evening of terror, mystery and pathos.
Orpheus (beautifully sung by Nicholas Lester) is driven by love and regret to cross the threshold of life and death to rescue his long suffering and neglected wife Eurydice (Sarah Tynan) and also pursue his passion for the Princess of Death (a stunning ENO debut for the radiant Jennifer France) Nicky Spence’s wonderful tenor voice soothes and stimulates throughout, as chauffeur and mediator Heurtebise.
The music is sublime. A steady stream of haunting undulating melodies, that ebb and flow in and out of your consciousness as the characters on stage move between the living and the dead. This is music that truly awakens the senses. Go see it!
Until 27thNovember // ENO Box Office: 020 7845 9300
Tiptoe down the concrete slipway off Southwork Street; loiter outside the forbidding wooden frontage. Knock knock, the doors open… and you step into party time! The Bunker Theatre is bright, its loud, its packed and its friendly.
This Theatre (previously an underground car park) opened almost three and a half years ago, and its ethic “To give ambitious artists a home in which to share their work with adventurous audiences” is exemplary. It’s so sad, therefore, to hear that it will be closing in March 2020 when its lease runs out.
Ava Wong’s debut play “i will still be whole (when you rip me in half)” explores the relationship between daughter EJ (Aoife Hinds) and her mother Joy (Tuyen Do) who abandoned her 22 years previously. It plays out as a series of intertwining monologues that reveal the choices both women have made. EJ; Anxious and uncertain about her sexual attraction to women. Joy; who loves running and erasing all traces of her Chinese identity.
The potential of the writing is crystal clear; the dialogue between the two characters is authentic and moving, poetic in places, and effective in revealing their very different characters.
Visually the production was rather lacking in drama, the staging was dull and rather inert. I found myself closing my eyes and just listening as the play moved towards the meeting between mother and daughter.
Perhaps staging it as a radio play might fulfill its potential?
The programming of The Bunkers final few months, will focus on collaborations with Women and LGBTQ Artists.
I recommend a visit whilst you still can!
Bunker Theatre SE1 // 0207 234048 // 13-23rdNov
I performed a poem at the 2019 National Service of Hope and Remembrance at St. Paul’s Cathedral, for the launch of National Hate Crime Awareness Week. The video can be seen here.
I performed my poem in St Paul’s Cathedral, 13 October 2019, for the launch of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The video of the performance can be found here on Youtube.
In this week across our nation
We stand united in this call.
“There is no place for hatred.”
Because hatred, hurts us all.
Whatever your sexuality or religion
Ability, gender, colour of skin
This battle against hate crime
It’s one we have to win.
Let’s educate the ignorant.
Dispel prejudice and fear.
Promote that Love is a human right,
Be open and be clear.
We can make a difference,
By what we do and say,
Against the intolerance and injustice,
Some people suffer every day
It’s okay to be different,
Lets honour who we are.
Make our world a safer place,
For all of us, near and far.