I guess it's true about all publicity being good publicity, because despite the fact that the company OperaUpClose are now probably best known for their cavalier attitude towards things like health and safety, paying their casts, or actually being licensed to perform in public in the first place, they still get to pay a return visit to Soho Theatre where they had a big hit last year with La Bohème
. The follow-up is Mozart's Don Giovanni
, once again translated and modernised by Robin Norton-Hale, who directs. And again I can only review this as a piece of theatre not as opera since I know nothing about it: It sounded like opera singing to me, nobody in the audience threw rotten vegetables at the stage, so I can only assume all's well in that regard. There's still a dearth of actual fat ladies singing but there was quite a collection of bingo wings on show so at least an effort is being made to get up to the correct weight.
The setting is once again modern, theoretically some time before the Credit Crunch with Don Giovanni turned into Johnny the banker (Paul Carey Jones in tonight's performance) although this felt like bandwagon-jumping that's not followed through in any particular way - not even in Cherry Truluck's costumes, very noticeably when Johnny and his intern Alexander (Dickon Gough) are recognised as bankers at a bar because of the pinstripe suits they, er, aren't actually wearing. Truluck's set is also a bit odd - I liked the central table that extends into the audience but the variety of styles that are probably meant to be eclectic just look like she couldn't decide on a look for the show. Although I enjoyed more of the music this time (in my totally opera-uneducated way) I didn't think this production had quite the spark of originality that La Bohème
had, most noticeably so in a half-hearted attempt to recreate the central coup de théâtre from last year's show. And while attempts to modernise the music work, the story doesn't fit well with a 21st-Century context - right from the start, the very idea that Anna (Elinor Jane Moran) would ignore her own rape and her father's murder by Johnny for as long as she does just makes no sense.Don Giovanni
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a version by Robin Norton-Hale is booking until the 17th of September at Soho Theatre.