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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

Smokes and parasites: A Princess Undone @ParkTheatre

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It’s a hot and stormy August evening, and Princess Margaret is on a mission in A Princess Undone. The trouble is, with so much reverence for the subject - and not much of a mission - it’s hard to see the drama (or comedy) in this piece by Richard Stirling. It’s currently playing at Park Theatre . It’s August 1993. Most of the Royals are at Balmoral. Princess Margaret is at Kensington Palace with the Queen Mother’s steward William Tallon (also played by Stirling). After clearing out correspondence from the Queen Mother’s rooms in Clarence House they’re getting ready to burn it.  The trouble is Princess Michael of Kent is watching them. And they aren’t too sure if Diana has slipped out for a night of playing catch with the paparazzi. And some boy is claiming to have information on her liaisons with underworld figure John Bindon. The premise sounds like it could be a farce exploring the world of the royals and the sycophants that surround them. But too often the punches are pulled and we’

Wishful thinking: The Passing of The Third Floor Back @Finborough

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In The Passing of The Third Floor Back, the arrival of a mystery man at a lodging turns a bunch of crooks, philanderers and pretenders that make up English society into human beings.  The action takes place over the festive season and it could be an alternative to Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Without the ghosts. The piece is having its first revival in 70 years at the Finborough Theatre . I overheard someone leaving the theatre noting they found the first part more interesting than the rest. Afterall, this prologue is the bit that presents the characters with all their flaws. The dialogue is sharp and hilarious. And you could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed in London since Edwardian times. But Jerome K Jerome, who spent some time living in down and out places depicted here, has other plans for his characters. The arrival of a mysterious new lodger (Alexander Knox) confronts the characters one by one. Each believes they have met him somewhere before and take his

Oh Canada: Proud @Finborough #Proudtheplay

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The former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper is the subject of Proud currently playing at The Finborough. It asks what havoc he would have wrecked if he won a larger majority in 2011? Written by Michael Healey in 2011, it suggests a nightmare situation of a petty-minded leader who uses whatever means possible to achieve his vision. A small-minded vision focused on making the government just a little smaller than it currently. And of course annoying the Canadian Liberal establishment. Viewing it from the United Kingdom with our shambolic political system, you may be tempted however to think Canadians never had it so good.