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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Opera: Turandot

Friday night I caught Turandot at the Royal Opera which was a good classic production of the opera. I gather from A that the ENO did a truly dreadful version a few years ago that prominently used old television sets for some unexplained reason so it was nice to see it performed in a largely standard way. This production now at least 20 years old is showing a few signs of age with clunky costumes and a stale take on Commedia dell'arte for the characters of Ping Pang and Pong, but overall it still looks good.

Ben Heppner and Georgina Lukács were great in the lead roles but the biggest applause was reserved for Elena Kelessidi in the role of Liú. She had an incredible voice that would not be drowned out by the occasionally overpowering orchestra…

This is a very accessible opera full of melodrama and soaring music… And also the aria "Nessun Dorma"… Discussing the plot of the opera later with A he suggested that the riddles were too easy for Calaf to get and that he should have been asked why a raven is like a writing desk or something silly like that…

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