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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

More new legs (and wigs and breasts): Manon Lescaut @RoyalOpera

Puccini's opera about true love somewhat prevailing over material possessions is given a stylish and slightly filthy update in Jonathan Kent's production at the Royal Opera.

But what makes this production memorable is the pairing of Jonas Kaufmann as Chevalier Des Grieux and Kristīne Opolais as Manon. The steamy scenes and vulgarity are balanced against the soaring vocals from this pairing.

Perhaps if it were any other duo it might have been a pedestrian evening, but together with the orchestra of the Opera House conducted by Antonio Pappano, the elements seemed to come together to give this work a fresh perspective.

The night before I had seen a production of Carousel that attempted to modernise it and make the characters more identifiable for audiences, so I was up for this updating.

The subject matter lends itself to being viewed through a modern perspective. This production takes its inspiration from various red light districts throughout Europe.

When Manon returns to Geronte as his mistress in the second act, she appears to be also performing a regular sex show for bald men in raincoats. Jail in the third act is inspired to be some sort of Big Brother reality show.

The final scene is set on a half-demolished flyover which notwithstanding a laboured metaphor about the end of the road, looks rather spectacular.

I'm not sure I would want to see this opera again, Puccini does tend to like to repeat himself throughout the piece, but this cast and this production makes it a thrilling night.

Performances conclude on 7 July. Raincoat showings may pop up at cinemas around the world for some time to come however.

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