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A Woman of No Importance

More haste, less speed

A Woman of No Importance

by Oscar Wilde

Classic Spring Theatre Company, Richmond Theatre, until 21st September

Review by Matthew Grierson

What is important in A Woman of No Importance – apart, of course, from the eponymous Mrs Arbuthnot? If we are to believe Dominic Dromgoole’s production, it is cementing Wilde’s reputation as a wit of the first order. Most of the opening two acts play as though excerpted from a dictionary of quotations, with characters speaking apercus in the rhythm of the machinegun: each of the miscellaneous aristos seems to be seeking to outdo another by trumping a preceding bon mot.

You sense that Wilde has set it up so that we are at once bamboozled by the whirligig of lords and ladies to which we are introduced while being dazzled at their brilliance. But if ‘the clever people never listen, and the stupid people never talk’, as Mrs Allonby smartly observes, where does this leaves a speechless audience? Well, at least we’re laughing.

Importance1The pacey delivery and light tone allow the stars – of which we are reminded that there are ‘a great many’ – to shine. Isla Blair is a naturally dry and authoritative Lady Caroline, and holds court for much of the first half of the play by looking up from her embroidery to issue pronouncements or reproach her husband (John Bett on amusing form as the doddery Sir John). Liza Goddard is meanwhile effortlessly genial as hostess Lady Hunstanton, a character unflappable other than when failed by her own memory. The most impish and impressive of these important women is Mrs Allonby, in a charismatic performance by Emma Amos, swishing among the seated matriarchs and gainsaying anything that can be gainsaid – and, with the appearance of Lord Illingworth (Mark Meadows), sparking an illicit chemistry.

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In these scenes, Wilde is setting out the way women can exert the seemingly limited power society affords them. In a world sprung from words, they can exercise considerable authority to create and contest their place, and act II serves in effect as their parliament, putting the world wittily to rights in the men’s absence. Indeed, the scene would ace the Bechdel Test were it not for the fact that they are continually talking about the gents on the terrace.

a-woman-of-no-importance1With wit and wisdom to the fore, the performances of the younger women Lady Stutfield (Meg Coombs) and Hester Worsley (Georgia Landers) are somewhat overshadowed. Keyed up to appreciate the bristling dialogue, we are invited with Lady H. to patronise Hester’s earnest denunciation of English society. But as a character whose name has resonances of the Old Testament, Hester’s speech on the unequal justice meted out to sinning men and women serves as an appropriate prophecy for the subsequent arrival of Mrs Arbuthnot, the woman of no importance who is all-important to the action of the play.

Maintaining the pace of the comedy on into this drama is perhaps this production’s failing. The snappy capping of line with line is perfect for the earlier exchanges, which contain some of Wilde’s most memorable dialogue outside Earnest, but sustaining this through the confrontation between Lord Illingworth and Mrs Arbuthnot (Katy Stephens) does not give us the breathing room to appreciate the human feeling of the scene, and takes it as read that we will already have divined the nature of their relationship.

As Illingworth, Mark Meadows makes a sinuous transition from charming rake to a cold manipulator, but the rhythm of the dialogue is as though they are still trading badinage.

The juxtaposition of amusement and brutality at the end of act III risks leaving a particularly sour taste. One of the young women is sexually assaulted before the curtain suddenly falls and we are then treated to an entr’acte music hall song. I can see that what Dromgoole might intend with this interpolation – one of the ‘cheap entertainments’ Lady Hunstanton would afford the poor to divert from the very inequities to which Hester wants us to attend. As a comment on society it’s as troublingly relevant now as it was when Wilde wrote, but at the same time the play needs to do more to distinguish these issues from the pacey handling of the more comic scenes.

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A note of praise at this point all the same for the marvellous Roy Hudd. He’s a fine comic turn in the play proper as Reverend Daubney, forever reciting a litany of his wife’s maladies, but he also breaks the fourth wall between acts to sing the jaunty numbers of the below-stairs ensemble, drawing on his venerable variety experience to bring these to life.

As we move into the final act there is no let-up in the relentless pace of the drama, though. Katy Stephens not only gives a bravura speech about bearing and bringing up Gerald – something that belongs alongside any words of Wilde’s we’ve committed to memory – but sees off the no-good father of her child before throwing herself onto the couch as though ready to weep. Nary a beat later, however, she is revived by the return of her son and his new fiancée. Give her a break, Dom.

It’s a happy ending, certainly, but it short-circuits any relief we might feel at Mrs Arbuthnot’s redemption, and likewise Hester’s sudden conversion from Biblical morality to a more compassionate worldview. The play has much to say that remains urgent, but needn’t be so urgent in doing so.

Matthew Grierson
September 2019

Photography by Robert Day

Marvin’s Room

Sombre, Wry, Clever

Marvin’s Room

by Scott McPherson

Teddington Theatre Club, Coward Room Studio, Hampton until 21st September

Review by Helen Astrid

In this dark comedy in two acts by Scott McPherson, you would be forgiven if you thought Marvin’s Room a hybrid of Samuel Beckett and Tennessee Williams. Without the pregnant, awkward pauses à la Beckett, the American accents were not quite as far South as a Williams play.

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Playwright and author McPherson is also an actor who shares his own personal experience of being HIV positive and of the various family breakdowns and dynamics as a consequence of his illness. Brought up a devout Roman Catholic, religion permeates Marvin’s Room, given by Teddington Theatre Club at the Coward Room, Hampton Playhouse.

Marvin3Based on a major film with Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio, the play focuses on the reunion of two estranged sisters. We never see Marvin, Bessie’s father; we only hear his painful groans offstage, leaving our imagination to determine his aged physical appearance. He has been dying for the past two decades and Bessie, played by Linda Hansell, is his full-time carer. As is often the case in such situations, the carer needs caring for! She herself becomes ill and requires a bone marrow transplant, but is unable to find a suitable donor.

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There is much family (and familiar) tension throughout. Each has their own issues and unresolved resentments. McPherson draws on his wit and snappy dialogue to delight and surprise.

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The intimate setting of the Coward Room was perfect for this kitchen-sink drama directed by Eirin Compton. Susan Gerlach as Lee, Daniel Baldock as Dr Wally were excellent; the two sons, Alex Rand as Hank and Ben Jeffrey as Charlie gave fine performances. The latter bears an uncanny parallel to Christopher in Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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Atmospheric lighting and smart screen projections set the many different scene changes with precision; these were swiftly executed by nurses in uniform accompanied by well-known song clips ranging from Simon and Garfunkel to George Michael.

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For an in-depth peek into family issues, Marvin’s Room is wry, sombre yet clever. It’s worth seeing not least to address one’s own family mechanics.

Helen Astrid
September 2019

Photography by Jojo Leppink (Handwritten Photography)

The Father

Through a Glass Darkly

The Father

by Florian Zeller

Richmond Shakespeare Society, Mary Wallace Theatre until 21st September

Florian Zeller’s The Father is about an elderly man descending into dementia. Understandably this is not the most attractive of opening lines, nor is dementia as subject matter likely to have audiences rushing for tickets, which is a shame as RSS’s current production of this clever play is well worth a look.

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To begin with, the staging is highly effective. Portraying dementia on a stage relies upon a skilled set designer and an efficient crew. Set Designer Mike Read and the RSS crew fulfilled this brief to a high standard. The set, a white-ish room with basic furniture, the walls delineated by wispy strips of cloth was managed and changed efficiently, many times by a brisk, silent crew (not named in the programme other than under the headings of ASMs and set constructors). This set, together with Paul Nicholson’s lighting and Wayland Booth’s sound, echoed the mind of an elderly man losing chunks of his life on a daily basis. Visually the production was striking, the bright light of the scenes in which people talk, contrasted with the softer, total black indicating a scene’s end, and then the dim, flickering while changes took place sometimes looked like an old film. Crucially though, it made you think of confusion without actually confusing you – clever.

Father6The short description of what actually goes on over the next ninety minutes, usual in most reviews, would perhaps spoil the piece for a new audience. Suffice to say, events are viewed solely from Andre, the father’s, point of view. Andre is cared for by his daughter Anne, apparently in his flat in Paris. However, nothing is straightforward. Andre is not necessarily where he thinks he is. Or is he? Anne may not be Anne. She may or may not be married and Andre is unclear as to which man might be her husband. Zeller shows us the disintegration of the father but also the strain on the people who love him, but who must carry on their lives while trying to care for him. There is humour here too, gentle and sometimes poignant but present. As Andre flirts with his new carer, we have glimpses of the man he was.

Chris Haddock’s performance as Andre must have connected with anyone who has had dealings with dementia. Characters like Andre, who are not so much individuals as representatives of something, could be oversimplified or bland. Chris Haddock however, played an endearing, flirtatious and witty version of Andre, which made his personal losses so much more affecting.

Also connecting with the audience was Lynne Harrison as Andre’s daughter Anne. Her personal life, stuck semi-permanently between a rock and a hard place while she tried to do the right thing for the father she loved, struck chords you could almost hear. Anne was any one of us, not perfectly patient but doing her best. She drew a natural sympathy as her father began to lose his automatic self-control about which of his daughters he preferred.

The supporting cast provided strong back up. Laura-May Hassan was the type of carer we have all met and the apparently amiable Peter Easterbrook was quite frightening in a suitably unexpected way.

There were a couple of slightly odd elements to the acting, possibly because of direction. It is challenging to play characters who are not necessarily what they appear to be, in a play that is about confusion. That said, it was unclear whether Lizzie Williams as the nurse, towards the end, was directed to deliver certain lines as she did or whether that was her chosen approach to the moment. Perhaps it was an intended nuance I missed but it seemed slightly out of step. Similarly Luciano Dodero, as Pierre, did not seem at ease with the character-type he was playing. These are small distractions though and they did not detract from the piece as a whole.

Since being lucky enough to see Still Alice last year at Richmond, I have found drama about dementia to be surprisingly absorbing, and often comforting. I couldn’t honestly describe The Father as comforting but I would definitely recommend it and RSS should be proud of the job they have done with this production.

Eleanor Lewis
September 2019

Photography by Timeline Photos

My Name Is Cathy

Absurdist Farce of Time Again

My Name Is Cathy

by Andrew Sharpe

KatAlyst Productions at Chapel Playhouse, Kings Cross until 18th August, then on tour until 11th October

Review by Quentin Weiver

“If I had my time all over again …” is an utterance frequently breaks forth from the exasperated lips of those of us of a certain age. The pen of emerging writer Andrew Sharpe has reshaped the sentiment of these words into the thesis for his new play, My Name is Cathy, which he has presented in this year’s Camden Fringe.

The writer is aptly named as there is a keen edge to the word-craft and structure of the play. Sharpe describes it as “an absurdist farce for our time” and with nicely crafted black humour, Sharpe just steers it away from political polemic. His inspiration come from his background as a lawyer in the family and criminal courts.

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It the evening of the eponymous Cathy’s fiftieth birthday and she sits with her only friend, a rapidly emptying bottle. Her opening monologue starts with the, sadly much parodied, introduction at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, “My name is Cathy, and I am an alcoholic.” But somebody is there to hear her confession, her own self of a decade and a half earlier, the happy, successful and socially well-adjusted 35 year old Cathy, a clever and successful schoolteacher. The didactic that follows is a riches-to-rags story painful to hear, an aleatoric decline, almost Fassbinder-like in its inevitability, attributable to nobody, or everybody, a series of wrong-turns, bad choices, and farcical mistakes.

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In the hands of director, Velenzia Spearpoint, the dispiriting theme is lightened by pulling out the moments of, albeit fairly dark, humour and of farce. She keeps the chronology focussed by the use of titbits of contemporary newscasts and of the songs then in vogue. Designer Adam Bottomley’s simple set transforms effortlessly from the chaotic orderliness of a classroom to the ordered chaos of a court of law.

 

In the courtroom scene, zealous young QC, Joanne Young argues her case unsuccessfully in a largely unsympathetic hearing before Judge James Goode. Playing both Young and the younger Cathy, Sally Paffett differentiates the roles well, showing an up-and-coming QC anxious to succeed, seen against the younger Cathy resting on the laurels of success as clever and popular teacher. But when, for Cathy, did confidence merge into arrogance?

Also doubling roles, Edwin Flay portrays a self-opinioned Judge Goode, very much of the old-school, and an entirely different character Dorian Craig, known to all as Dee, a self-absorbed man, seemingly unconcerned about that effect his has on the morale and self-esteem of the declining Cathy.

As the older Cathy, Kat-Anne Rogers’s portrait is as absorbing and as it is realistic, making for griping theatre. One could often almost feel the audience willing a different decision from her as her life gradually disintegrates.

Ambitions thwarted, spirit decimated, relationships dissolved. Would thing have been different if she could have had had time all over again? The question remains rhetorical.

Quentin Weiver
August 2019

Photography by Origin8 Photography

The Long Road

Sharp and Edgy Theatre

The Long Road

by Shelagh Stephenson

St Michael’s Players at St Michael’s Centre, Chiswick until 16th August, then at the Edinburgh Fringe until 24th August

Review by Eleanor Lewis

Dan, a teenage boy, goes out in the evening with his older brother Joe. There is a small altercation with a young woman outside a shop, she stabs Dan and he dies quickly on the pavement, his brother Joe leaning over him. The Long Road opens with Joe’s dazed but graphic description of those events, and calls the audience to attention with a ferocity that continues throughout Shelagh Stephenson’s sharply written play.

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Over the course of the next eighty minutes, on a small set, efficiently lit and furnished with minimum scenery and props, five characters deal with the effects of this event. Dan’s grieving family veer off in different directions: his mother Mary struggles to understand; his father John wrestles with rage and distracts himself with running and then with alcohol. Dan’s brother Joe wonders whether he alone can be enough for his parents since Dan, he believes, was their favourite. Eventually Mary decides she wants to meet her son’s murderer and with the help of a counsellor she begins that process despite John’s objections.

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Shelagh Stephenson’s writing is pared down to the essential, it’s highly focussed with small details used to great effect. Elizabeth Ollier’s Mary describes the indentations of her late son’s feet in his shoes and says that she has told a university that he’ll be taking up the offer they made him. She’s not deluded, she’s pragmatic while lost in grief and all the more affecting because of it. LongRd3

Alistair Dewar’s John is a man well on the road to self-destruction until brought up sharply by his own actions. Dewar plays him as a human being, not always sympathetic in his rage, but still recognisable as ‘one of us’.

Louis Bricusse as the older son and now the only child, skilfully portrays the confusion of a young man burdened with guilt and grief and without the life experience to bolster him.


Fleur de Henrie Pearce is striking as the badly damaged Emma, Dan’s murderer, with a beautifully observed and crafted performance. This character’s constantly hyped, constantly moving, defensive-aggressive demeanour is a human powder keg, a woman to whom nothing has been given and from whom an awful lot has been taken. She’s the woman you walk through the train carriage to avoid.

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Into this festering mix, Elizabeth the psychologist arrives to take Mary and Emma possibly towards some sort of restorative justice. Leonia Chesterfield gives a suitably restrained performance as Elizabeth, again with attention to the small details, her momentary loss of control during her challenging interactions with Emma being highly effective because of its brevity.

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Though Emma’s dramatic trajectory is perhaps ultimately predictable and the play’s resolution a little too neat, this is not real life; it’s drama, and an exploration of the possible, so all bets are off and we are allowed to appreciate a little light at the end of a dark tunnel.

St Michael’s is high definition drama which ticks every box. Director and actors are completely in tune with their material and the material they have is high quality. My only disappointment was olive-related. The ‘olives exchange’ between various characters was a moment of gentle relief. I suspect there were others or rather I’m dimly aware that there were others but they weren’t as apparent as they could be. Humour is always present around death, however awful, and a peppering of it through the drama breaks the relentlessness and rounds the characters. That aside, this is an excellent piece of theatre very well presented. Highly recommended.

Eleanor Lewis
August 2019

Photography by Ian Trowbridge

Sense & Sensibility

Georgians on My Mind

Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen, adapted by Fiona Hatcher

Youth Action Theatre, Hampton Hill Theatre, until 15 August; 19–24 August, theSpace @ Niddry St – Lower Theatre, Edinburgh

A review by Celia Bard

The Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, must find their way through the delicate rules and salacious gossip of Regency society in this lively adaptation of the Jane Austen classic by Fiona Hatcher. Lasting no more than an hour, the show treats the audience to a series of highlights in a flurry of well-paced and well-structured scenes. The imaginative use of two narrators help the audience navigate the trials and tribulations of the Dashwood sisters and their associates.

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The action opens with the funeral of John Dashwood senior, father of the three sisters. The security of the sisters and their mother is threatened when their half-brother John, heir to the Norland Park estate, and Fanny, his voracious wife, take over the family home and put pressure on them to leave, completely ignoring the wishes of Dashwood senior that their interests should be looked after. Fortunately for mother and sisters, a distant relative comes to their rescue and offers them a comfortable cottage in Devonshire.

The opening funeral tableau of members of the Dashwood clan is very atmospheric. The characters, dressed in funeral attire, hold static, photographic positions, while in the background is heard the singing of the Benedictus. The scene ends sharply, and within seconds the main characters have cast aside their mourning garb and we are in the feminine, pink drawing room of the family home, enjoying the witty but calculating manipulation of John Dashwood junior by his wife Fanny as she plots to remove mother and sisters from the estate.

John, played by Timothy King, is suitably pliant, putting up little resistance to his wife’s callous demands. Zofia Komorowska as Fanny gives an interesting performance: her characterisation reflects Fanny’s striking appearance and her manipulative, snobbish, self-centred qualities, but the actor tends to react to what is being said by other characters at the expense of interacting with them. She does, however, have considerable stage presence, and can certainly hold the audience’s attention. In her case it is perhaps worth remembering the old adage that ‘less is more’.

The three sisters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, played respectively by Jennie Hilliard, Emmy Coates and Meaghan Baxter, give strong and compelling performances. The two older sisters Elinor and Marianne are complete contrasts. Elinor is ruled by her head and shows very little emotion and Jennie gives a very controlled performance, right up until near the end of the play when she breaks down, giving full vent to her emotions after learning that the man she loves, Edward Ferrars, has been secretly betrothed to another. In contrast, Marianne is played by Emmy as spontaneous and romantic. She attacks her performance full-on, displays a whole range of emotions, gripping the audience with her volatile personality. Meaghan Baxter as the youngest of this trio is just charming as Margaret Dashwood. She weaves in and out of the action, is delightfully childlike, and provides a running commentary on the comings and goings, and helps move the action along at a bouncy pace as she innocently drops snippets of adult conversation she has overheard into other conversations, much to the consternation of others.

The second of the narrators is Mrs Jennings, acted by Mary Rycroft. Through her eyes the audience are drawn into the misbehaviour of the gentlemen folk. She revels in their misfortune, keen to provide an upbeat, gossipy account of all that she witnesses. Mary positively embodies this role, and her attempts to act as matchmaker are especially humorous. Working well as a foil to Mrs Jennings is Lucy Steele, a giddy, simpering young woman amusingly played by Inara Stamp.

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The male actors in this production are outwardly correct in manners and deportment, as would have been expected of them in Regency society, but their inner sensibilities tell a different story. John Dashwood, for example, inherits wealth, and although initially keen to carry out his father’s last wishes is shown to be weak and without morals, allowing himself to be totally dominated by his wife. Timothy underplays this character, and this contrasts well with his overbearing spouse.

Jake O’Hare’s portrayal of John Willoughby is carefully sketched. On the surface he is attractive and charming, but he is exposed as a cad by his easy abandonment of Marianne and seduction of Colonel Brandon’s 15-year-old ward.  Edward Ferrars, at first seemingly dominated by Fanny as well, manages to extricate himself from his long-standing secret engagement to Lucy Steele, marrying Elinor Dashwood instead – much to the ire of Fanny, who was determined that he should marry someone of wealth. Cameron Christie is entirely convincing as Edward and plays him with great charm. Colonel Brandon, acted by Josh Clarke, is the most rounded of all the male characters. Throughout he acts kindly, honourably and graciously. Josh does justice to this role; he has charismatic stage presence and interacts intelligently and sensitively with other characters.

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The play is in the capable hands of two strong directors, Sarah Down and Elizabeth Lattimore. The social fabric of the times is well researched, and this shows in the authentic costumes worn by the actors, the choice of music, which is very much of the period, and the deportment and manners of all the characters. Marianne’s piano playing and singing looked and felt very natural. The stage is well used, and the blocking is sound. The scenes move along seamlessly and are pleasing to look at. Only a slight readjustment of props was needed to indicate different locations, a great feat.

The whole of the YAT cast and crew should be complimented on successfully staging a fresh take on an old classic, it felt new. The cast came over as relaxed, enthusiastic, vigorous, and totally absorbed in their characters. A thoroughly enjoyable evening that deserves to be a great success in Edinburgh.

Celia Bard
August 2019

Photography by Jonathan Constant

 

 

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Masterful

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

by Richard Wagner

Fulham Opera, Greenwood Theatre, Southwark, until 17 August

A review by Andrew Lawston

I must preface this review with a confession: I know rather less about opera than Walther von Stolzing knows about the process of becoming a meistersinger. So Paul Higgins’s new production of Wagner’s comic opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg came as something of a revelation.

The full four and a half hours of Wagner’s work is presented here, but the 16th-century setting has been updated to the grass, trestle tables and indeed wellies of a 21st-century music festival. This plain set is embellished by back-projected images for occasional comic effect (act II’s raucous climax being a particular highlight in this regard). Jessica Staton’s simple and economical design allows for rapid scene changes, and draws the audience’s eye to the performers.

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From the opening, where Walther von Stolzing (Florian Thomas, giving an impassioned performance throughout) tries to attract the attention of Eva Pogner (Philippa Boyle, a hugely powerful voice from whom we definitely wanted to hear more) during a church service, the orchestra, conducted by artistic director Ben Woodward, gamely filled the venue with a broad sound that constantly suggested a far larger ensemble.

There are two casts for this production, with Eva and Walther being portrayed by different performers on alternate performances. After one of the Hans Sachses was forced to withdraw from the production during rehearsal, however, Keel Watson is playing the role for all performances, and singing from the score in places as a result. Watson’s performance as shoemaker–poet Hans was a highlight of the production, his rich voice and controlled gestures bringing this rather sad and philosophical man to life wonderfully.

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The plot of Die Meistersinger is light – essentially a knight must be accepted as a master singer in order to win the hand of the girl he loves – but even the lightest plot needs a villain, and this role is pulled off with gusto and relish by Jonathan Finney as ageing hipster Sixtus Beckmesser, Walther’s unlikely love rival and marker for the master singer trials. It’s hard to completely dislike Sixtus in this production, as his attempts to serenade Eva in act II are consistently frustrated by Hans, mischievously hammering at his shoes. Finney deserves triple plaudits for not only embodying such a wonderfully charismatic antagonist, but also training the chorus, and arranging the score for the 18-piece orchestra!

Mirroring the burgeoning relationship between Walther and Eva, Sarah Denbee’s spirited Magdalene is also courting Edward Mout’s put-upon but energetic David. Their sub-plot, which could easily have faded into the background, provides consistently entertaining light relief thanks to the charismatic performances. Veit Pogner, the town’s goldsmith and Eva’s father, is portrayed with great dignity by Gerard Delrez. His wonderful voice even manages to smooth over the eyebrow-raising crack in the plot that Pogner intends to marry off his daughter to the winner of a song contest.

In fact, there is much in the libretto for Die Meistersinger that is problematic by today’s standards. Above and beyond the problem of Wagner’s lingering association with anti-semitism, Hitler and Nazi rallies (the programme notes don’t attempt to excuse the composer’s own views, but do point out sensibly that Richard Wagner died before Hitler was even born), act II briefly veers down a very troubling path as Eva and Hans discuss their love, with Hans commenting that she can be both a wife and a child to him at once. Boyle and Watson tackle the material with a playful edge, suggesting the two are teasing each other jovially rather than … well, rather than whatever else was supposed to be going on there. Throughout, the production treads an assured line that keeps the audience on side.

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The rest of the meisters provide gravitas for the show’s big scenes: Andrew Mayor as Frith Kothner has a great time questioning Walther as he prepares for his trial in act I. Then in act III, the meisters have their time to shine at the singing contest: Robert Barbaro as Kunz Vogelgesang, Tom Asher as Konrad Nachtigall, Philip Clieve as Balthasar Zorn, John Rodger as Ulrich Eisslinger, Holden Madagame as Augustin Moser, Ian Wilson-Pope as Hermann Ortel, Simon Grange as Hans Schwarz, and Henry Grant Kerswell as Hans Foltz. It’s a fantastic ensemble, and even Robert Byford’s nightwatchman (or festival security guard, in this update) entertains.

Given its sheer length and the size of its cast, Woodward is probably right to describe this production as ‘surely the maddest thing ever attempted by a fringe opera company’. But dedication, skill, and passion have combined to produce a truly remarkable production.

Andrew Lawston
August 2019

Photography by Matthew Coughlan