Vivacious, Victorian, and very good fun: Ruddigore, Gilbert & Sullivan, Southgate Opera

We tend to think of Victorian society as morally strict, judgemental, and socially tense: and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, while confirming all the above, savagely pokes fun at Victorian ideals of social and moral perfection, pushing stereotypes to extremes in order to satirise the question of private and public goodness from all sorts of different…

Making more monsters: Blood and Ice, Liz Lochhead, Sewell Barn Theatre

“Feminism is like the hoovering: you just have to keep doing it,” once said Liz Lochhead, former Makar (poet laureate) of Scotland; and Lochhead has been true to her word, with a distinguished literary career often featuring feminist icons: Medea, Mary Queen of Scots, and here Mary Godwin, daughter of pioneering thinker Mary Wollstonecraft (author of A…

The life lesson of sharing: The Selfish Giant

Giant snores reverberate across Westacre Theatre’s wide stage as we settle down for Andy Naylor’s bespoke adaptation of The Selfish Giant, Oscar Wilde’s heartfelt fairytale about selfishness, loneliness and love. Through a translucent screen showing a projection of the Giant’s castle, we can just catch tantalising glimpses of his beautiful garden beyond as the story…

Surprises aplenty from I Fagiolini: Monteverdi’s other Vespers

I Fagiolini‘s very interesting programme of music by Monteverdi and his contemporaries pulls together a wide range of works, but somehow lacks an ensemble feel. These “Other Vespers” are not exclusively by Monteverdi: Robert Hollingworth has included pieces by Monteverdi’s contemporaries Bovicelli, Donati, Usper, Viadana and Gabrieli, as well as earlier bits from Monteverdi’s own corpus (such…

Seriously angry birds: Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’ view of humanity, in terms of dead-eyed, disillusioned despair, can give even Ibsen and Thomas Hardy (neither famed for their rosy-tinted outlook) a serious run for their money. Suddenly Last Summer is a horrible story, told by terrible people, about other, even more disgusting people and the revolting things they do to others…

Fascism, fun and fury: Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Dario Fo

Before the glitzy, transient landscape of Fake News, we had the sinister reign of “alternative facts.” Dario Fo’s sardonic, wisecracking black farce, performed at the Sewell Barn Theatre in Gavin Richards’ fast-paced, swearword-strewn English adaptation (as approved by Fo himself) finds three Italian policemen frantically trying to get their story right after an anarchist they…