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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: The Author

The opportunity arose on Friday evening to see the new play The Author at the Royal Court Theatre. Not knowing anything about it, except my suspicion that more than just a few bloggers would be there, I was up for a night of mystery theatre and suggested to Gio that we should go. Even better was that it was short so we wouldn't have to suffer the inedible food at their bar / cafe and could go eat somewhere else. There is a trend in sophisticated theatres in London to serve pretentious overly fussy small servings of food made from ingredients that would be better off going into cans of dog food. The Royal Court is leading this trend...

But anyway, we arrived to see that there were two facing tiers of seating... No stage. Opting for the one facing where we walked in, we sat down and waited for something to happen. Sure enough, the actors were already in the theatre. They were sitting among us. Actor number one, Adrian Howells starts speaking to people and saying how gorgeous we all are. He says hello to everyone in our row but us and then somebody in the seats opposite asks a question and he ignores her. She then proceeds to pull out a notebook and write what could have been a shopping list. I thought it was part of the act, but in fact she wasn't one of the other actors. There begins what is roughly 70 minutes of prodding the audience, but not always interacting with them. In fact when the lights go dark and Esther Smith asks if we want to hear her sing and somebody shouts out "No!" (another grumpy blogger I suspect) she sings anyway...

The purpose of all this no doubt, was through a series of monologues to shock the audience about a number of different things including violence, pedophilia and potty words. Part of the novelty of the seating was that you could see the audience's reaction to all of this (including where some walked out). There were some hilariously awkward moments where author and actor Tim Crouch describes his sexual experiences to a young lady next to him. She looks as comfortable as being in a dentist's waiting room. When he asks (as all the actors do periodically), "Shall I go on?" she still says, yes!

While it wasn't everyone's cup of tea it was very well done, even if it could have been a little bit shorter. After all, once you have shocked the audience by shouting "Cunt!" at them four times, doing sexual things with a baby is really more of the same. Well... The four ladies sitting opposite me pulled the same face of distaste at them both. But this sort of play is one where you walk out straight away or go along for the ride... Since I rarely carry a notebook on me, I couldn't write my shopping list so I went for the latter. It was worth it...

It runs through to the end of October at the Royal Court for audience members who are up for it...

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