<< -- 2 -- Roderic Dunnett REVISITING WITH PLEASURE
This year, Longborough's education arm was in evidence, as a team of adults and youngsters lined up to provide an entertainment centring round Britten's children's opera The Little Sweep. The first half of the evening, taking the place of Eric Crozier's original play Let's Make an Opera was something of a medley of scenes and songs (a 'potpourri') that conjured up the feel of the often unforgiving Victorian world in which the hapless Sam, the sweep of Britten's opera, grew up. The plum of the first half was actually the one person who stood outside the performance, the wonderfully inventive and energising master of ceremonies, Jill Norman. With the spirited commentary of this larger than life personality, one could scarcely not feel involved in the touching if sometimes tentative action of the 'scenes'.
Hugo Docking looks the part as Britten's The Little Sweep
The music hall miscellany worked well, with the audience occasionally drummed into action. One learned to one's horror that there really was a time not long ago when 50% of children perished before their fifth birthday, and of the merits of fennel as a disinfectant. A charming flower girl warbled; Balfe's 'I dreamed I slept in marble halls', the most celebrated number of The Bohemian Girl, made an appearance, charmingly if a little uncertainly; in due course, a bold gendarme or two took a bandy-legged turn. Costumes and make up were both a success. Just occasionally the stage business was a bit fumbled or overlengthy; by contrast the lighting was slick and much of the singing was perfectly pitched. The pièce de résistance was one absolute delight: an unforgettable intoning of the parlour favourite 'A Ticket to Heaven' that was unbelievably heartwrenching, and something of a triumph for the younger performers. A magical touch.
Copyright © 8 October 2006
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK