I am walking inside an apartment. The walls are white, smudges of paint stain the walls and floor, random objects around me create a mosaic of a life spent backwards. People move around me in a swift pace, placing half burned candles on the floor, blankets on surfaces and painstakingly checking that every detail looks effortless. This feels like a dream.
If you told me last week I would be walking on the stage of the English National Opera I would have scoffed at your face (and then apologised because that would be rude). Yet, here I am. The set is a genuine work of art, full of beautifully crafted details that might not be perceptible to the spectators but make the world of La Bohème so exquisitely intricate.
I was a bit sceptical before my visit. I read reviews that were neither favourable nor flattering and so I did not know what to expect. I found my seat, the lights dimmed and I stopped breathing as the set I was walking on a few moments ago lit up.
Two hours of pure heart string pulling ensued.
I genuinely think the reviews missed the point. By no means do I consider or advertise myself as a critic, but I understand that when I go to see a modern interpretation of a work it will be different. You have to see it with completely new eyes, almost as if it is a totally new play. Can it stand in its own merit? The director is bringing something new to the table – saying ‘but we always did it another way’ is not doing it justice. Veering off too much from the original is not something to be looked down upon – it has to be celebrated; you don’t want a lukewarm version, you want a punchy rework that makes you see things in a different light.
The cast was amazing. The leads (Corinne Winters and Zach Borichevsky) did a fantastic job, but I have too I was genuinely captivated by Rhian Lois as Musetta and Duncan Rock as Marcello (who I bumped on the next day in the tube and awkwardly congratulated on his performance 🙂 they were both incredible at bringing these characters to life and subtly showcasing all the layers of flawed yet endearing human beings. The sets were minimal yet powerful and along with the staging and the costumes created a micro-universe that defied time and space – it was a battleground for love to live and die.
Needless to say I cried like a baby and had to compose myself before walking out. I think it would be a shame to miss this performance. Keep a open mind, prepare to be surprised, wowed, enchanted and touched, prepare to be reminded why love hurts and how beautiful this pain can be.