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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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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

Age of innocence: Country Music @Omnibus_Theatre


The latest instalment of the Up series landed this week. It tracks the lives of a bunch of unrepresentative British people every seven years. Fascinating in its ordinariness and irritating by director Michael Apted's random and pompous commentary, it was on my mind as I was watching Country Music. It's a much more subtle exploration on how people change over time. Or at least your perception of them. And how your life can be shaped from your early years in ways you can never appreciate. It's currently playing at the Omnibus Theatre.

Jamie (Cary Cranson) and his girl from school, Lynsey (Rebecca Stone) are in a car Jamie has stolen. Along with a large bag of crisps. It's 1983, and they're just out of school. They talk about getting away and the benefits of different flavours of crisps. But beneath the surface, something isn't quite right. Jamie has a short fuse. There's talk about a mighty fight. And soon, Lynsey is scared.


Things jump forward a few years, and Jamie is in prison. His brother Matty (Dario Coates) is visiting. Talk shifts soon to the cause of his incarceration, and the sacrifices Jamie has made, including to protect his little brother. Next, we see Jamie out of jail but confined to a bedsit. His daughter, Emma (Frances Knight) visits out of curiosity, much to the disappointment of Jamie.

Through the careful positioning of the characters, your sympathies and understanding of Jamie shifts during the piece. Jamie, at the outset, seems dangerous to himself and everyone around him. But he isn't a monster. It's a smart piece of writing that the cast serves well, particularly by Crankston who sensitively portrays Jamie from thug to broken man.

Written by Simon Stephens and directed by Scott Le Crass, Country Music is at the Omnibus Theatre until 23 June.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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