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Showing posts with the label Terry Johnson

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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

The happening: Ken @BunkerTheatreUK #Ken

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How do you make a play out of the life of theatre maverick Ken Campbell? Turn it into Ken, which is more like a happening than a straight play. A writer comes on stage as if to give a lecture and then things get weird. Terry Johnson has crafted a fitting tribute with his mostly true stories about his life. The focus is on Terry’s encounters with Campbell. But over the course of the piece you get a sense of the man and his contribution to British Theatre. It’s currently playing at The Bunker following a previous run at the Hampstead Theatre. The Bunker is a quirky and intriguing space at the best of times with its different seating options. Old seats from the Chocolate Factory and comfy lounge chairs and tables. Thanks to designer Tim Shortall, for Ken it’s been overrun with a fabulous orange shag pile, throws, divans and cane lounges. Get in early if you want the best seats, but be aware that Ken might kick you off them for a bit if the drama requires it. With incense burning and a ra

Bad stuff happens: Insignificance @arcolatheatre

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Insignificance at the Arcola Theatre takes four famous people from the 1950s and puts them in a hotel room. Is it a nostalgia piece or is there a deeper meaning? Written by Terry Johnson, it’s having its first revival in over twenty years. In the second act, the senator (meant to be Joeseph McCarthy) talks about how heroes, geniuses and stars serve as a convenient distraction. It’s also tempting to see parallels with the present day. Thirty five years ago it was the Reagan era and the threat of nuclear war from a trigger-happy b-movie actor-president. In the intervening years there have been desert storms, coalitions of the willing (with or without poodles). In the future maybe there’ll be a battle between little rocket man and the oversized Oompa Loompa. Horrible stuff happens. And the heroes, geniuses and the celebrities exist just to make us feel there’s hope.