Theatre review: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle at Platform Theatre
Atmospheric and powerful production is helped by the striking scenes created by BA students
Opera in the UK is undergoing a stealthy renaissance. It’s taking place at the fringes, where low budgets meet high creative ambition. This unique production of Bel� Bart�k’s 1918 opera Bluebeard’s Castle by the English Pocket Opera Company is a perfect example.
Judith (Anna Gregory) is Duke Bluebeard’s (Dominic Barrand) new bride. She goes to live with him in his dark and foreboding castle. Inside, she finds seven locked doors, and demands her husband give her the keys to each one.
The audience is led around the Platform Theatre, which is really a ‘performance complex’, with no permanent seating area. Behind each ‘door’ is a space designed by a student from the BA (Hons) Performance Design and Practice course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.
Each interpreted the brief in wildly different ways, equally impressive in their own right. The Armory (Frances Cooper) was splendidly realised, with a glowing atomic bomb suspended from the ceiling and a table covered with test tubes and petri-dishes evoking a chemical weapons laboratory. The detail and scale of this room juxtaposed with the surrealist unease of the Torture Chamber (Artemis Evlogimenou) to great effect.
You may also want to watch:
Although both are vocally very strong, Gregory seems more at home with the close-up nature of the performance than Barrand. Being in and among the audience places her under unusually detailed scrutiny; she is an expressive
performer, with an acting talent to match her vocal ability.
- 1 'Extreme' noise complaint as 150 gather for Islington party
- 2 Statue of Philip Noel-Baker replaced in Islington after 35 years
- 3 Meet the owner of the Camden Passage shop window where nothing is for sale
- 4 What do smoking and People Friendly Streets have in common?
- 5 New Lidl to open in Finsbury Park's Arts Building next week
- 6 Islington and Camden police chief to leave Met after 29 years
- 7 Elderly woman robbed of precious watch in daylight Finsbury Park incident
- 8 Two Tube lines closed after 10pm as TfL staff isolate due to Covid
- 9 Almost 5,000 Islington people pinged by Covid app in one week
- 10 'We can do better': Islington Society calls for rethink on Barnard Park plans
Modern buildings don’t lend themselves well to drama, since they seem to eradicate the romance of history. But here, among the exposed brickwork, concrete, and steel, the production creates real atmosphere and a powerful, satisfying finale.
* Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was at the Platform Theatre in Handyside Street, N1C, from January 17, 2012, to January 21.