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Bit parts: Garry Starr Performs Everything @swkplay

Garry Starr Performs Everything is a bare-bones (and bare buttocks) tribute to the theatre. Theatre may be in trouble, and audiences are down, but Garry Starr aims to save the theatre and bring back to the masses every style of theatre possible. As long as each style involves wearing a transparent white leotard or a skimpy thong. And tassels. It's part comedy, part physical comedy and part perv at Gary's physical prowess. The sentiment "if you've got it, flaunt it" applies here. So here we are with a show that has been around for some years and is having its first proper London run at the Southwark Playhouse (Borough) through Christmas. The premise is that Garry Starr (played by Damien Warren-Smith) has left the Royal Shakespeare Company over artistic differences. He is now on a mission to save the theatre from misrepresentation and worthy interpretations by doing things such as a two-minute Hamlet, recreating scenes from a Pinter play using unsuspecting audience

Brief encounters: La Tragédie de Carmen @popupoperauk

In La Tragédie de Carmen, Popup Opera have a distilled version of Bizet’s Carmen devised by Peter Brook in the early 1980s. The gypsies are gone and all that’s left is the love triangle. And some of the best tunes...

Carmen in some ways can survive being messed about with. The Royal Opera afterall is presenting Carmen in a gorilla suit. Cutting out large chunks of the story and setting it during the Spanish Civil War makes less sense. And in the venue of the Peckham Asylum the sightlines were a bit challenging. But it still works better than expected.

Popup Opera is known for their fresh take on comic operas that tour around the country. But they are on a winner with a more dramatic piece for their autumn season. It doesn’t mess about getting to the best arias. And it helps they’ve assembled a youthful and impressive quartet to bring out the passion.

Chloe Latchmore dazzles as Carmen, using her body and her voice as the seductive and sensual woman. She holds your attention with her clear and strong vocals.

Indonesian tenor Satriya Krisna is just as imposing as Don Jose. Escamillo is an officer haunted by the war here and played by a mildly heroic James Corrigan. Rounding out the cast is Alice Privett as a strong and feisty Micaëla.

Piano accompaniment is by regular Popup Opera music director Berrak Dyer, makes it seem like you’re hearing a full orchestra, bringing out all the subtleties of Bizet’s score.

The moody lighting and projections work well in the Asylum Chapel. The location is an astonishing relic in the heart of Peckham. Even if those who sat further back missed out on some of the drama, the venue made up with it with its chilly atmosphere. Other venues the production tours to may offer better sightlines but I suspect they won’t offer better ambiance.

Directed by John Wilkie, La Tragédie de Carmen plays at various locations until 23 November. Check their website for details.


Photos by Ugo Soffientini

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