Thursday, 10 September 2015

Thousand Furs, Re:Sound Music Theatre, Tete a Tete Opera Festival

August is a very strong month for Fringe opera in London. At this year's typically stuffed Tete-a-Tete Opera Festival I managed to get to see Re:Sound's Thousand Furs. Cinderella with a prologue might be the best way to describe it. At one level this remarkable, taught music theatre piece left me a little disappointed. The possibility of exploring a medieval-period incest storyline was as fascinating as it was alarming. Perhaps this is the point - that the subsequent road trip and fantasy is consequent on the unconscionable but not impossible domestic situation that the Cinderella character flees.

One of Re:Sound's calling cards is the use of instruments on stage, characters not only singing their roles but also playing. Michael Betteridge's score works this in tentatively, opening with a capella ensemble singing. I liked this approach. There's no sense of a 'pit band', no musicians separated from the diegesis. When the performers did come to play, the natural anxiety I was expecting to have to deal with - playing of an inferior standard to the singing, or clunky gear changes between characterisation and playing - didn't happen. The playing was consistently of as high a standard as the singing, sometimes on two instruments.

The costuming and set were a continually manipulated arrangement of screens and primary colours on white, little paraphernalia but a continual eddy of motion. It's a rich hour of music theatre, well rehearsed and executed with good humour and quiet virtuosity. I wish more of what I saw held to these qualities.