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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s
Theatre: History Boys. Pass it on...

Finally caught The History Boys at the National. It was closing night of its extended run and it was another astonishing piece of theatre. As theatre goes, this has to be as good as it can get. At the conclusion, the audience gave a standing ovation to the cast and playwright Alan Bennett.

The play is described as "an unruly bunch of bright, funny sixth-form boys in pursuit of sex, sport and a place at university". But there is so much more going on here. Broader issues of Education are explored as just the starting point. This is a play that is full of witty barbs and sharp dialogue that surely will have a place in future dictionaries of quotations. A particular favourite of mine in the second act...

Mrs Lintott (a teacher): Our Headmaster is a twat. An impermissible word nowadays but the only one suited to my purpose. A twat. And to go further down the same proscribed path, a condescending cunt.

At a point later in the second act the actor playing this teacher lost the line and had to be rescued by having it called out offstage, which temporarilly broke the spell of the performance. But the cast as an ensemble worked so well together during the near three hours they were onstage, that this stumble was soon forgotten. Besides, there was so much memorable dialogue to take in.

The play is due to go to Broadway and tour Australia next year, but surely this play has even more future in it. I have an autographed hardcover script as well...

Overheard at the theatre after the play

Mahn #1: I think it is time tea...
Laaydy: Time tea?
Mahn #2: Yes it's the new talk for time to have some tea.
Laaydy: Oh yes well it is probably a good idea since look it's raining now...

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