The Magic Flute, Soho Theatre

https://i1.wp.com/www.sohotheatre.com/files/images/applicationfiles/1773.1121.OperaUpClose.TheMagicFlute.AbigailKellyPaminaPeterKirkTaminoFleurdeBrayQueen.PhotobyChristopherTribble.jpg/600x600.fitdown.jpg

Late one night, a couple fights in bed. After falling asleep angry, Tamino fitfully dreams of a nightclub, a beautiful girl and a quest to save her. He is accompanied by a cheerful sidekick and is given a magic flute by the Queen of the Night, a glamorous celebrity who strokes his ego and stokes his curiosity.

OperaUpClose’s latest recontextualisation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute takes shape through a brand new English libretto by Glyn Maxwell. Inspired by the distorted landscapes and stories in dreams, there are plenty of bright colours and and surreal narrative elements. Unfortunately, the lack of clear transitions and constantly shifting story doesn’t support understanding for those who are less familiar with the original opera.

Director Valentina Ceschi effectively captures the fluidity in Maxwell’s script, though the simple, rotating set isn’t always enough to indicate location. There’s the nightclub, the couple’s bedroom, and various other amorphous places that may or may not connect to the scenes around them. She finds a good pace that makes the two-hour running time pass quickly despite the muddled text that takes entirely too long to reveal its plot.

The cast of six are expressive and have great chemistry. A smaller venue helps support performance subtlety and it’s easy to see why the company are committed to updating operas for smaller venues.

But no level of intimacy or updating makes this adaptation easy to follow. Vague locations and a script that doesn’t provide adequate exposition or narrative elements confuse rather than elucidate this art form that has a reputation for only being accessible to the highest of high culture connoisseurs.

The Magic Flute runs through 7 October.

The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s