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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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

Brief flames and passion: Nabucco at the Royal Opera

Liudmyla Monastyrska as Abigaille in Nabucco  © ROH / Catherine Ashmore 2013
The Royal Opera's new production of Nabucco has received some mixed reviews - particularly with the sandpit staging - but catching the final night where Leo Nucci was playing the title role, it was clear that fine music making and some extraordinary singing will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The production has updated the period to the twentieth century but for the most part this does not get in the way of the story, or more importantly the singing.

My side view of the production (which restricted seeing the rear projections that "comment on the action") probably helped as it looked like it was pretty busy back there at times to the point of distraction. But it was hard to deny the beauty and power of some of the set pieces, including where Liudmyla Monastyrska as Abigaille sings lit only by flames (pictured above, photo credit Catherine Ashmore).

If you can't get tickets (particularly now since Plácido Domingo has taken over the title role the remaining dates seem to be sold out), it is going to be broadcast in cinemas on April 29 as part of the Royal Opera House Cinema series.

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