Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hold your head up high

Fun to be had with reviews of Carousel, semi-staged at the ENO...

"Carousel is a story of regret, longing and a desperately unhappy, doomed relationship. The ENO production is billed as a semi-staged version, but it might be more accurate to describe Lonny Price's production as semi-acted.

"Boe and Jenkins seem at cross-purposes, and not just in the mismatched aspirations of the characters they are playing. Jenkins' sweetly earnest Julie Jordan feels stilted and awkward in her scenes, only relaxing when she can place her shimmering voice to the gorgeous service of songs like What's the Use of Wond'rin.

"Boe's Billy Bigelow – burdened by a hairpiece that seems to be doing more acting than him – is wooden except when he's able to release that magnificent tenor, most notably in the celebrated Soliloquy in which he ponders the prospect of imminent parenthood."

Mark Shenton, The Stage

"There’s a troubling lack of chemistry in this central relationship. The result is that the pair’s doomed romance matters less than it should."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

"Jenkins’s voice sounds more hooded and matronly the more passionate she becomes. But she’s clearly game and director Lonny Price has elicited a nicely demure performance from her.

"With Boe, it’s another matter. "Push yer hair back off yer forehead,” complains carousel-owner Mrs. Mullin (Susan Kyd) to Billy. The line is puzzling considering Boe’s tied-back, lank black wig which is doing more character work than he is. Boe’s favourite pose is standing, feet planted wide apart, looking angry. Blunt and brutish though fairground barker Billy is, if we cannot see warmth beneath his surface, Julie’s attraction to him makes no sense. And given that this is, famously, a musical that centres around the appeal of a wife-beater, that’s essential. It’s fatally missing here. There are more emotional temperature changes in Mark Henderson’s colour-saturated lighting of the cyclorama than are generated Boe’s playing of the relationship."

David Benedict, The Arts Desk

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