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The male gaze: Turning the screw

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It's been a while since trips to the theatre. I've been busy. But it's nice to see that it's the creative process that is at the heart of Kevin Kelly's Turning the Screw. And what gives rise to it. It's a dramatisation of the creative process leading up to composer Benjamin Britten's premiere of his opera, The Turning of the Screw. With deadlines approaching, Britten seems stuck over melodies and unsure about completing the piece for its summer premiere. But the selection of twelve-year-old choirboy David Hemmings in the leading role of Miles within the opera is the spark that motivates him to complete the piece. And his presence may stir other feelings, too. It's currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre .  Britten's fascination with young boys has been the subject of a detailed book, Britten's Children. The book suggests that Britten saw himself as a young boy of 13. It's almost as if he saw himself as Peter Pan, albeit if Peter Pan was a

On my own: Chess @LondonColiseum

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The Cold War, phoney Americans, thoughtful Russians and the game of chess. All all backdrops in Chess the musical . It’s a curious rock opera about everyone out to make it on their own. And to hell with anyone who gets in their way.  It’s playing a limited run at the home of the English National Opera’s London Coliseum. Written by Tim Rice with music by ABBA’s Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus, maybe it is a show about solitude.  I t is a must see for ABBA fans. It allows you to wonder what the band might have sounded like if they carried on into the eighties with its rock ballads and intricate melodies.  It’s the first West End production of Chess in 32 years. And while the show has had many changes over the years, it works best when it flashes its early eighties origins. It looks gorgeous with its neon-inspired outlines and large projections. Adding the forces of the English National Opera Orchestra and chorus it sounds sublime.  But even paring the story back with minimal dialogue co

Trouble at the mill: Norma @E_N_O

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Norma at the ENO is almost a compromise too far. The production moves the action to the Victorian period. And it is a bit too distracting for this tragedy lyrics set in Roman-occupied Gaul. But there is some fine singing. American Soprano Marjorie Owens in the lead role gives a vocally strong performance. She dominates the scenes that she is in. Jennifer Holloway as Adalgisa matches Owens with vocal clarity. Both make their performances seem effortless. Rounding out the love triangle as Pollione, Peter Auty is just as resourceful.

Opera: The Passenger

The Passenger which is having its UK premiere at the ENO's Coliseum, is a lavish production with a great cast. It is a pity that the music does not live up to the standards of production. By interval I found it to be hard going with little reward from the Shostakovitch-like score. However upon heading to the bar for interval drinks I found myself listening to an elderly gentleman also heading to the bar who thought it was brilliant and compared it to Shakespeare. Or Shakespeare with a lot of clanging... Following that brief discussion, it seemed like it would be too easy to leave and not come back for the second half. So @Johnnyfoxlondon and I returned to the general area of our seats. The lady next to me in the first half who was texting on her phone throughout and laughing at rather serious parts of the piece had not returned so we had room to spread out. Fortunately in the second half, the music and story is much stronger. There are also a surprising blend of styles includi