Theatre review: The Marriage of Figaro at the King’s Head, Islington

King's Head

King's Head - Credit: Archant

One tends to take for granted the sheer joy engendered by Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. With just a three piece orchestra comprising piano, clarinet and viola, Alex Beetschen’s new orchestration of that so familiar overture soars through the Kings Head filling the room with glorious sound.

Instead of allowing the audience to sit quietly and listen to the opening music, director Sarah Tipple brings on the actor/singers in their modern dress to set up the stage, bring on the dress rails, arrange the furniture, hang the drapes and set the props ready for the performance.

As the music ends the play begins with Figaro played by Alistair Sutherland in full voice and having donned his costume, measuring up the stage, with Susanna - Rosie Bell - concentrating delightedly on her wedding hat forcing him to admit it is a millinery triumph.

Sutherland and Bell are ideal casting, facing the problems of the servant class with the ability to outwit their less intelligent superiors at every turn.

Both talented comic performers and singers, they are a joy to watch and hear.

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Nicholas Dwyer is both handsome and arrongant as the Count, with a fashionable beard like a pop star.

Fae Evelyn as his abandoned Countess is at first wistsful, and later full of fun when she joins plans to bring down her pompous and egocentric husband.

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Felicity Buckland is a perky Cherobino - the pretty boy who loves the ladies, and Henry Grant Kerswell looms threateningly as Bartolo the lawyer who is assisting Marcellina (Mary-Jane de Havas) in her quest for either marriage with Figaro or monetary compensation.

Another witty and hilarious libretto by Robin Norton Hale makes one sad that, apart from a Christmas gala season of repeat performances of their most popular productions , this is the last new work by OperUpClose to open at the Kings Head.

Their farewell show is a dellightful romp with sublime singing. Not to be missed.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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