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Madeleine Boyd's set consisted simply of a wall which snaked its way around the sides and back of the Lilian Baylis Theatre's stage, providing at the back a high level platform for dramatic entrances and encompassing the small orchestra (the Lilian Baylis Theatre has no pit). The orchestra were cordoned off from us by semi-transparent strips of plastic so that we could see them, but they were not the focus of attention.

Costume designer Ryszard Andrzejweski has obviously had a lot of fun raiding contemporary styles for the cast. Tynan was almost unrecognisable as a tattooed Amy Winehouse clone and the prince's grandmother was seriously channelling Zandra Rhodes. Given the limited budget, the prince's transformation into a sofa was also well handled.

Sharratt was excellent as the rakish prince who has to spend nearly half the opera embedded in the sofa. He conveyed the character's appealing charm and sang with an attractive, full voice. I did wonder whether he could have used rather less full voice and something closer to speaking to make the dialogue tell rather more. But it seems unfair to complain that someone is singing too much, especially with such an attractive voice. Sharratt was also brave enough to strip down to his lurid pink underwear.

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Copyright © 19 November 2007 Robert Hugill, London UK


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