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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

Lady be good: Jonathan Holloway's Jekyll and Hyde @JekandHydeUK

Jekyll and Hyde is a thoughtful gender reversal of this classic tale with some seriously atmospheric theatrical tricks up its sleeve. 

The piece adapted by writer director Jonathan Holloway has already been to London (albeit in a shortened form) in an equally interesting and shocking production.

Here things are fleshed out a little more and are infused with some pretty impressive production values for a fringe production, which is a co production with Hong Kong’s Chung Ying Theatre Company.

Arriving late to the theatre (you have to walk half way to Camden Town to access the entrance to the Platform Theatre), we still had time to stand briefly in awe at the beauty of the set before taking our seats. With its array of red lanterns, jagged edges and Victorian Gothic, it was moody and atmospheric stuff. It also looked terrific in the large and well-proportioned space (which once you find it turns out to be a real treat).

Dr Jekyll (played here by Olivia Winteringham) here is a sexy and seductive scientist who comes to England from the Balkans. Tormented by her past and fleeing horrors of her homeland she is conducting a series of experiments so she live in safety. But things are not what they seem as people are mysteriously murdered.

Her lawyer, upon discovery of the connection between Dr Jekyll and the madman Hyde finds himself drawn into a sexual relationship with the Dr Jekyll.

What stands out in both productions is the strong story and characterisations. This version feels sexier and the attraction between Dr Jekyll and her lawyer seems clearer. And although it omits a particular prop from the shocking climax (which had audience members gasping last time around), it is still equally effective.

Framing the story is the sale of a mysterious manuscript from a back room book dealer which gives the story its narration. The device last time around seemed odd and out of place but put in the context of an opium den, combined with a wonderful soundtrack full of crashing symbols, accordion and clarinet it all makes for a creepy and entertaining night out.

Jekyll and Hyde runs at the Platform Theatre, Central St. Martins Granary Building at Kings Cross until 8 August.


First impressions with @johnnyfoxlondon follow...

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