Skip to main content

La Didone

Royal Lyceum Theatre
4 stars
When worlds collide onstage, few do it more provocatively than The Wooster Group. Yet the reverent hush that greets the New York veteran pop post modernists melding of Cavalli’s opera based on Dido and Aeneas with 1960s Italian sci-fi flick Planet of the Vampires misses the point somewhat. Because director Elizabeth LeCompte, composer Bruce Odland and a cast of Wooster Group regulars augmented by a four piece band have made an undoubtedly odd but hilarious reconstruction of two lost classics.

When a diva is wheeled on for an opening aria, things appear normal enough. Then you notice the cast are dressed in silver space suits, re-enacting scenes from the film, which is projected on two TV screens behind them. Mic’d up so they sound like they’re speaking through an intercom, they talk side by side with the opera being acted out simultaneously, with the dialogue of both works projected in English surtitles. With the electronic washes of Odland’s added score fizzing out from a kit set up in the middle of the stalls, there’s no pause for breath in what is an irreverent piece of theatrical frottage in which the joins are deliberately and wilfully left exposed.

The actors ham it up something rotten, and when someone asks “What’s going on?”, that the answer is “I wish I knew” is a deliciously knowing in-joke. At times its free-associative whirl, backed by slabs of electric guitar rock baroque, resembles an extended sketch from Saturday Night Live, and one half expects the ghost of John Belushi to wander on dressed as a bumble bee and squirt custard from his mouth. One thinks too of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd’s cartoon reappropriation of Wagner. Throwaway and felicitous La Didone may be, but the attention to detail in its comic book parallel universe is a spaced out fantastic voyage worth tripping out to.

The Herald, August 20th 2007

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…