The Go-Between & The Fairy Queen
Last week was a theatrical week with a trip to see Perfect Pitch’s musical adaptation of The Go-Between at Derby Theatre and English Touring Opera’s production of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen at Buxton Opera House.
I have been waiting to see The Go-Between since I first saw it advertised and finally ended up doing so on a weekday matinee. The theatre was a quarter full of retired people and me and Ed were the youngest there by some measure. It’s not unusual of course, especially for a matinee, but it made me sad that there weren’t more young people there able to see what was for me a beautiful, nostalgic, aching piece of theatre.
The music was something else entirely and to call the piece a musical is to misrepresent it. All the accompaniment was provided by Jonathan Gill who played a grand piano on stage which served as part of the set. It was a performance of stamina and beauty the like of which one doesn’t often get the opportunity to hear. The music was sometimes challenging and indeed one of my pupils found it a bit ‘weird’ for his tastes. For me it evoked the period the play portrayed and kept me spell-bound in Leo’s world for the entire performance. I hope this musical doesn’t sink without trace and that it gets a longer run across more than the three theatres it has seen this time round and a better reception than the paltry applause given by the audience at Derby on Wednesday last.
As for the Fairy Queen, this was a last minute treat provided by some friends of mine, one of whom had done technical drawings for the set. Set in the mental asylum where Richard Dadd was a patient we were treated to an imaginative and gentle treatment of this theatrical oddity. I had entered expecting to see some of the darker elements of life in an asylum, but found instead that the doctors and nurses treated their charges like their own children. We saw puppet shows and dances and songs performed as though they were entertainment for the patients. The performers themselves were quite beautifully in touch with the characters they portrayed and the whole thing rang with an emotional truth which is sometimes hard to get to in music of this period.
I really hate giving reviews – I’m no critic – but I loved both of these performances very much and they have served to fill the creative well a little. Next theatre trip is to see Journey’s End, currently on tour and coming to
Nottingham before long.
- Xerxes/The Fairy Queen, English Touring Opera, Britten Theatre, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Go-Between – review (guardian.co.uk)