Thursday, August 6

West Midlands

Birmingham Opera Company: The Ice Break
West Midlands

Birmingham Opera Company: The Ice Break

Birmingham Opera’s Artistic Director Graham Vick takes a brave leap in transforming this opera by Michael Tippett the first interpretation since 1977 in Covent Garden. An unused warehouse is cleverly transformed into a strange airport terminal where the audience stands and is ushered around to the dramatic action by the chorus; a lot whom are from the local community. Opera can have many connotations, high brow, difficult to understand and perhaps for an old fashioned elite; Vick throws all this on its head with an utterly gripping show where everything is energised for a fascinating heady performance that is contemporary and relevant. It is indeed even more relevant with the Black Lives Movement that has been a regular feature of the last few months. The themes focus on race, ri...
Much Ado About Nothing – Royal Shakespeare Company
West Midlands

Much Ado About Nothing – Royal Shakespeare Company

Showing as part of the BBC’S Culture in Quarantine series, this Royal Shakespeare Company 2014 production, often wondered to be the missing Love’s Labour’s Won, was originally the latter half of a comic double bill – the first half being Love’s Labour’s Lost – devised by director Christopher Luscombe and designer Simon Higlett, and was live screened to cinema in 2015. In a clever re-staging, the action is set in December 2018 at the country house of Leonato (David Horovitch), and which has been converted to serve as a hospital, with daughter Hero (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) and cousin Beatrice (Michelle Terry) replete in nurses uniforms. Prince Don Pedro (John Hodgkinson) leads the returning soldiers which include his illegitimate brother Don John (Sam Alexander), Claudio (Tunji Kasim...
The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
West Midlands

The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

It is not often recognised that this is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and watching this RSC production from 2015 under the direction of Polly Findlay as part of the BBC Culture in Quarantine programme, one would be tempted to say it was a tragedy. I often say that less is more but Johannes Schütz’s set design is so bare that even with its pendulum constantly swinging, it is impossible to decipher a proper sense of time or place which is at the heart of this play about money and how it affects all involved. We begin with Antonio (Jamie Ballard), a prince among Venetian merchants who is unaccountably depressed despite his obvious success as a dealer in luxury goods. His friend Bassanio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in contrast is broke but remains reasonably cheerful as he has a plan to marry Po...
Othello – Birmingham Opera Company
West Midlands

Othello – Birmingham Opera Company

Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy which explores timeless themes of race, trust and fidelity and Verdi’s operatic version adds a mesmerising backdrop of powerful music. Birmingham Opera Company’s production is a unique modern interpretation which immersed its original audience within the action of the story and exposes the darkest elements of the story in shocking detail. The opera is sung in English, with occasional subtitles which turn on and off at seemingly random intervals. The opera is performed in a warehouse, with bare brick walls and a blood red carpet, with a live orchestra conducted by Stephen Barlow. As part of the broadcast we see the bewildered and shoeless audience enter the performance space and merge into the Chorus made up of 250 people. It was clearly the intention ...