Tag Archives: Andreas Grieger

L'Incoronazione di Poppea

L’Incoronazione di Poppea
★★★★

Cockpit Theatre

Incoronazione di Poppea

L’Incoronazione di Poppea

Cockpit Theatre

Reviewed – 30th January 2019

★★★★

 

“every person involved demonstrated a high level of vocal and acting skills”

 

First performed in Venice in 1643, L’Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), tells the story of Poppea, mistress of the Roman Emperor Nero (Nerone), in her pursuit to become Empress. This production of one of the first operas to use historical events and figures manages to engage a modern audience through timeless themes and talented vocal performances.

Although there are central characters, this work is best described as a strong ensemble piece. All ten performers engage well with each other, displaying believable levels of emotion as well as physical connections. There are no awkward gaps between scenes, with performers making seamless entrances and exits.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a standout performance as every person involved demonstrated a high level of vocal and acting skills. However, the scenes and duets between Poppea and Nerone must be mentioned for their intensity and passion, excellently delivered by Kathleen Nic Dhiarmada and Helen May. Joana Gil as Drusilla brings a welcomed level of comedy and light, particularly during her early scenes with Eric Schlossberg as Ottone. Ottone’s love for Poppea is earlier rejected by her, and he offers to marry Druisilla when he realises he cannot win Poppea’s affections.

Accompanying the singers is a baroque period ensemble, led by Marcio da Silva, who is both Stage and Musical Director. Instruments include two harpsichords, an organ, lutes, a baroque guitar, baroque violins and a cello. These are all skilfully played and complement the vocal performances well.

The opera is performed in Italian with English surtitles, which are projected onto a wall upstage. This generally works well and the words are clear. At times, it did prove difficult to switch focus between the words and the performers on stage, but this could simply be due to the fact that having surtitles as part of a production is arguably quite rare and something that takes getting used to from an audience perspective.

Although first performed in the 17th century, L’Incoronazione di Poppea explores the timeless themes of love and its power, lust, ambition and sex. A minimalist set and contemporary costumes, as well as these themes, help a modern audience to engage, whilst the baroque ensemble means there is still a traditional feel. For someone who’s not hugely familiar with opera, I was impressed and feel inspired to broaden my knowledge of the genre. A sensual, well-delivered production!

 

Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Andreas Grieger

 


L’Incoronazione di Poppea

Cockpit Theatre until 1st February

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Cantata for Four Wings | | April 2018
Into the Woods | ★★★★ | May 2018
On Mother’s Day | ★★★½ | August 2018
Zeus on the Loose | ★★ | August 2018
The Distance You Have Come | ★★★★ | October 2018
Don’t You Dare! | ★★★ | November 2018
Unbelonger | ★★★½ | November 2018
Mob Wife: A Mafia Comedy | ★★★ | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Sexy Laundry – 3 Stars

Sexy Laundry

Sexy Laundry

Tabard Theatre

Reviewed – 6th November 2018

★★★

“Riml’s comedic writing is good, though decidedly safe”

 


Sexy Laundry feels like familiar territory; it is a story of a couple’s attempt to rekindle their relationship. But familiar stories are hard to do well but Felicity Duncan and Nick Raggett’s sensitive performances bring this relationship to life. With shows like the BBC’s Wanderlust airing, a play about difficult marriages and unfulfilling sex seems timely. So let’s talk about sex, between ordinary people.

Written by Michele Riml and staged in the US, Canada and across Eastern Europe, Sexy Laundry’s themes have had a wide appeal. Alice (Felicity Duncan) and Henry (Nick Raggett) have found themselves growing apart, a vast chasm of daily chores, children and work troubles lying between them. To relearn intimacy they must talk, something that turns out to be quite hard and humorously so. With some wonderful lines (‘I think you’re confusing a sexual fantasy with a tampax advert.’), the comedy plays with the differences between two people that can go unspoken for years.

The Tabard Theatre’s small performance space provides for an intimate setting as the actors are on stage for eighty minutes, alone, in a hotel bedroom. Indeed, the space takes on that alien luxury of a hotel, equipped with outrageously thin towels, absurdly plush flooring and an array of settings for ‘mood’ lighting. There are also some wonderful moments of physical theatre (and of dancing) in which the lighting transforms the set and Duncan and Raggett’s comedic prowess really comes to the fore.

Riml’s comedic writing is good, though decidedly safe. Sexy Laundry is a play about some very ordinary middle-class and middle-aged people. Other than the fact that we know that Henry is an engineer and Alice an estate agent, they are characters who seem devoid of any idiosyncrasy. Though this makes their squabbles relatable, it also makes their relationship one that is stunted by rather stereotypical gender norms.

Sexy Laundry is a careful comedy about disappointment, fantasy and intimacy. This is a tight production in a great little theatre. The cast’s performances are consistent and convincing, with some moments of real flare. Together, they tell a story of two people who struggle to talk about sex because they have, it seems, always played it safe. Unfortunately so does the comedy.

 

Reviewed by Tatjana Damjanovic

Photography by Andreas Grieger

 

Tabard Theatre

Sexy Laundry

Tabard Theatre until 25th November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Lady With a Dog | ★★★★ | March 2018
Sophie, Ben, and Other Problems | ★★★★ | April 2018
Sirens of the Silver Screen | ★★★ | June 2018

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com