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Adrian Clarke (Mr Emmet) with Rebecca Caine and Jonathan Best in the world première of 'Mr Emmet Takes a Walk'

If the music lingers, it's partly because of some superbly taut and pithy ensemble work from the English contemporary music group Psappha and their Belgian equivalent, Muziektheater Transparant, under an inspired and driving conductor, Etienne Siebens. Pountney's production, neatly abetted by Robert Innes Hopkins's clinical, white-panelled, flexible set, was as pertly quizzical as the text, at times outrageous in its triteness (mainly the spoof spy scenes) yet highly effective in bringing home the claustrophobia and mental terror of Emmet's final days (thanks to tenor Adrian Clarke as a burly Emmet, as adept vocally as visually). There are two other (multiple) roles : the other pair, seen at the start and end as a casual duo of what look like surgical cleaners, always feel like harbingers of Death; while the three characters together comprise a symbolic, fatal trio who seem to be constantly circling and sizing one another up. Rebecca Caine's flighty telephonist-cum-mock femme fatale and Jonathan Best as dour waiter/spymaster/grim intermediary were top rate : Caine can switch on a deliciously nauseous, chirruping high register; Best delivers low notes that would see off Mozart's Commendatore.

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Copyright © 16 December 2000 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK





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