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Love is all you need: The Island @cervantesthtr

A drama set on the seventh floor of a non-descript hospital waiting room may not be everyone's idea of a great night at the theatre. But love and all other forms of the human condition are dissected in Juan Carlos Rubio's The Island. Translated by Tim Gutteridge, it feels like everything is up for grabs. What is love? Is it a bond between two women with a fifteen-year age gap? Is it the love between a mother and her son with a severe unknown disability? A wonderful life full of health and happiness is not always an option on the menu, and the choices may become a bit less palatable. Throughout a series of sometimes banal conversations, what comes out is a story of two women with lives that are separate and together. And while the piece becomes darker on one level as it progresses, it never ceases to fascinate and draw further insights into the couples. It's currently playing at the Cervantes Theatre .  A couple waits in a hospital waiting room for the outcome of an accident

Quick and not quite magical looks: Die Zauberflöte

Ekaterina Siurina as Pamina and Albina Shagimuratova as Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte © ROH / Mike Hoban 2013This current sold out run of Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) at the Royal Opera is a curiosity that veers from being full of life to being a drag (and back again). It makes for a night out, but not a particularly magical one. There is some fine singing (although not from everyone) and the occasional wonderful set piece, but the end result is that this production lacks a bit of fun and comedic timing that you would hope to see.

Conductor Julia Jones often takes things at a slow pace which makes the evening seem much longer than necessary. While it gives a new appreciation for the music it does feel at times to be a bit of an academic exercise.

The under-lit production, full of Freemason imagery to labour underscore the plot, does not help and there was a curious choice to make Albina Shagimuratova as Queen of the Night sing her signature aria in act two kneeling on top of a bed (as above). Not quite the grand spectacle I imagined for here, even if she sounds incredible and had the audience applauding her. While many consider this production lavish, after ten years it does not feel like it is ageing well and feels a bit dated.

The run is dedicated to Sir Colin Davis, who passed away recently and an emotional dedication was delivered by Antonio Pappano before the start. It completes it season on 9 May. Photo credit: Mike Hoban.

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