This is a fun filled evening put on by a clever creative team who know their difficult opera and use its absurdities to deliver irresistible humour while simultaneously serving up to a beguiled audience the power and musicality of the operatic voice.
The audience is invited to sample the delicacies of ‘Pattiserie Valkerie’ in the form of two hours of humour all mixed up in a ‘mash up’ with operatic highlights from Wagner’s sixteen hour Ring Cycle. The story is played out by the cast at top speed with props providing more opportunities for fun, none of which are missed. No previous acquaintance with the opera is required to enjoy the show, the plot is recounted with one eye firmly fixed on irony on a need to know basis.
That all this is delivered by a cast of just five in contemporary dress and a piano player, is a tribute to their talent and charm. On opening night there was not a single weak link among those filling the stage. They all adroitly handle the changes in tone that take place throughout the evening, ready and able to swing the audience from laughter to profound emotion found by the means of the human voice in a moment.
The artists singing on opening night included Edward Hughes who delivered a splendid solo after the interval, just before the audience was rendered helpless with laughter again by a very funny scene indeed.
Mari Wyn Williams is at all times an engaging and surprisingly vulnerable Brunnhilde (Hilda here). Simon Thorpe keeps the pace moving with his gorgeous baritone and immense versatility. Harriet Williams has a wonderful voice while Anna Gregory comes to the fore with her own special talent in the second part of the show.
The splendid musicality of the evening is underpinned at all times by the wonderful piano playing accompaniment of Kelvin Lim, intent in white tie throughout, as the rest of the cast dress up and knock about as waitress’s, spies, seductresses, dragons and assorted other types.
It’s a hugely enjoyable evening of fun leavened by the ‘best bits’ of Wagner. Assimilating knowledge of opera will never come easier than this. The show ends with the Ride of the Valkyries performed in a way that is familiar to us all, but non the less amusing for all that, sending everyone in the audience of the Charing Cross Theatre home energised and with a smile on their face.
Review by Marian Kennedy
The Rinse Cycle
Award-winning Unexpected Opera presents an entertaining take on Wagner’s masterpiece, in a comic play with highlights sung in English by five superb performers. Expect magnificent music, great drama and Unexpected fun!
Curious about Wagner and his famous Ring Cycle? Reluctant to give up loads of time and dosh without knowing more? Here is your chance to experience this amazing work – without taking it too seriously. The Rinse Cycle is 16 hours of music shrunk to only 2, and conditioned with comedy. We can’t promise it’ll be clean, but we’ll remove the cultural stains and encrusted stereotypes. Plus you’ll hear some of the Wagnerian stars of the future.
Music Director: Kelvin Lim
Director: Lynn Binstock
Designer: Nancy Surman
Lighting Designer: Tom Mannings
Associate Music Director: Robert Bottriell
Script: Roger Mortimer
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CAST: Anna Gregory, Mae Heydorn, Edward Hughes, Cara McHardy, Paul Reeves, Simon Thorpe, Justine Viani, Brian Smith Walters, Harriet Williams and Mari Wyn Williams.
The Rinse Cycle
Mon, 15th February 2016 to Sat, 12th March 2016