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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

Boom and bust: Eldorado @arcolatheatre

Property deals, war, angst and a healthy dose of absurdism mark Eldorado, the stylish new production currently playing at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston.

It is beautiful to look at and so well staged that you might feel inclined to seek out investment opportunities in Iraq afterwards, even if it has your recalling the worst excesses of the Iraq war.

The play opens with a description of a post-apocalyptic description of a war-torn land, that is open for a "unique investment opportunity".

We are then introduced to Anton (pictured). He has it made. He has a wonderful house, a wife who is a talented pianist and they are expecting a baby.
But all is not quite what it seems. As news of civil unrest grows and bombings increase, he finds himself out of a job. His wife, after a disastrous concert at a community centre, slams the piano lid on her hands. And a property deal that he has signed with his mother-in-law, seems to be not the sure things he convinced her it was. Soon he is hearing voices and noises and hiding on top of wardrobes so people can't find him.

The piece by by Marius Von Mayenburg (and translated by Maja Zade), is having its UK premiere here. It is a wonderful opportunity to explore the gulf between aspiration and reality, with some sharply observed scenes as the characters are pushed beyond their coping points among the insurgencies and fine dining.

It is also well acted by the ensemble. Michael Colgan as the confused and increasingly delusional Anton holds the piece together with his borderline sane performance.

Meanwhile Sian Thomas as Greta (pictured opposite with her young toy boy played by Nicholas Bishop), the somewhat practical mother-in-law gets many of the best lines, and as @johnnyfoxlondon notes in the Audioboo below, the best frocks.

This is the first production from Mongrel Thumb, which aims to bring to London audiences new and unusual works. They have succeeded here and looking forward to their future endeavours. First impressions follow, but this is a piece that lingers in your mind long after you have left the theatre...

Eldorado runs at the Arcola Theatre until 3 May. Tickets can be booked direct from the theatre website. The Arcola also runs "pay what you can Tuesdays".


UK Premiere of Eldorado by Marius von Mayenburg - Official Trailer from Mongrel Thumb on Vimeo.

Photo credit: production photos by Mongrel Thumb

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