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A Triptych Treat of Comic Operas. Feb 2018 Kings Head Theatre
Modern operas with an irrational twist”
★★★★ A trio of talented performers, wonderful
production design and a lovely atmosphere,
well worth seeing
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February 11, 2018
King’s Head Theatre and Irrational Theatre have put on a trio of rare comedic gems with the same three great cast members who each have a chance to shine.
It began with John Whittaker’s one-act opera The Proposal based on a short play by Anton Chekhov. It is about Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov going to the house of Stepan Stepanovitch Chubukov to ask for his daughter, Natalya Stepanovna Chukukov’s hand in marriage. The problem is that Natalya and Ivan keep fighting over and over again, and Ivan has a bad disposition and keeps getting ill. This is a great first opera to get the audience in to it; it’s a bit slow to start but once it gets going it’s funny and leaves you with a smile on your face. A great farce. Andrew Sparling as Stepan is the highlight of this one.
Opera 2 is the shortest opera in the world, a whole 3 minutes and 34 seconds, Peter Reynolds’ Sands of Time, about a couple having a fight whilst making breakfast. I really enjoyed this, it’s short, sweet and funny.
Le 66 is a moral tale from Offenbach about not letting money change you (a lotto win is involved). My favourite of the night, it has great music and is wonderfully slapstick (the dancing and the ‘Allo ‘Allo style German accents) whilst also making a good point which is as necessary now as it was when it was first written. Lucy Elston as Grittly and Laurence Panter as Franz were fantastic, Elston in particular has impressive control.
I’m really glad that Irrational Theatre decided to put on this triptych of rare comic operas, each is so different and funny with a trio of talented performers, wonderful production design and a lovely atmosphere, well worth seeing as the chance of seeing all three again is pretty slim, especially with such good performers.
A rare and special chance to see these three comic gems performed with piano and flute. Peter Reynolds’s Sands of Time:The Guinness book of records shortest opera on earth at 3 min 34, intended to ‘match the boiling of an egg’. A new comic opera commission by John Whittaker:The Proposal based on an early Chekhov satire and a fun tale of mixed fortunes in Offenbach’s Le 66, performed for the first time in the UK with an English Libretto by Matthew Toogood and Ellen Leather.
★★★★ As I left the theatre I felt like yodelling along with the score, and I’ve not said that since I saw Frank Ifield live in 1984. Pub Theatres
TRIPTYCH OF COMIC OPERAS
Triptych of Comic Operas
King’s Head Theatre 11 and 12 February 2018
“Modern operas with an irrational twist” ★★★★
Irrational Theatre’s Triptych of Comic Operas is just that - a trio of satirical and certainly irrational pieces linked by the relationships of three characters in each opera, and the same three singers who portrayed them.
This well constructed, cohesive bill began with an adaptation of The Proposal, originally written by Chekhov in 1888-89. Accompanied on the piano by its composer John Whittaker, it introduced the programme’s two main themes – relationship conflict and wealth. On this occasion, the conflict was predominantly between Ivan Vassilevitch Lomov, sung by Laurence Panteg and the woman he wishes to marry, Natalya Stepanovna Chubukov, sung by Lucy Elston, and concerned the ownership of some land and the comparative quality of the squabblers’ dogs. The role of Natalya’s stoic father was sung by Andrew Sparling.
This was perhaps the most absurd of the three pieces, with hypochondriac Ivan constantly protesting that he was going to die. The inclusion of a pretend (invisible) dog was off putting; unfortunately, Natalya sings a song about the dog, so it had to be represented on stage.
The second opera, The Sands of Time, is hailed by the Guinness Book of Records as ‘the shortest opera on earth’. Lasting for three minutes and 34 seconds, it was intended to 'match the boiling of an egg’ and 'create a piece which bore the same relationship to opera as a miniature does to a full-length portrait’. Complete with an egg timer to demonstrate the brevity of the piece, the story incorporated an argument over a boiled egg for breakfast, as well as the announcement, by Spalding, that the couple had won the football pools.
The third opera, Le 66, was by far my favourite, as – whilst very silly – it was exquisitely sung. Offenbach’s 1856 score showcased the vocal talent of both Panter and Elston; the latter of whom was excellent throughout the evening. Here, as in the previous two operas, Spalding acted both as the linchpin between a young couple - this time Grittly (Elston) and her cousin Franz (Panter), and the catalyst for financial change.
As I left the theatre I felt like yodelling along with the score, and I’ve not said that since I saw Frank Ifield live in 1984.
Triptych of Comic Operas presented by Irrational Theatre
The Proposal, composed by John Whittaker from a play by Anton Chekhov
The Sands of Time, composed by Peter Reynolds to a libretto by Simon Rees
Le 66, composed by Jacques Offenbach with a new libretto by Matthew Toogood and Ellen Leather
Reviewer Deborah Jeffries is a PhD Researcher at the University of East London and Rose Bruford College. Her thesis is entitled ‘Legitimising the Victorian Music Hall’, and it contests the notion of legitimate versus illegitimate theatre. It also investigates theatre architecture, purpose and licensing. She has worked for Hoxton Hall and Wilton’s - two of the UK’s four operational Victorian music halls, as well as the more modern incarnation, Brick Lane Music Hall. Her MA in Drama from Goldsmiths explores the difference between music hall and variety theatre, and the place of each genre in modern popular culture. She has reviewed music and theatre across the UK for over 30 years.
It is always a pleasure to see little known works, but you never know quite what you’re going to get. Irrational Theatre came to the King’s Head yesterday evening What it did have was bags of energy, complete with comedy accents, that made the silliness of this charming operette such fun. If they had been able to inject that energy into The Proposal it may have been more engaging.
You may never get to see them again – so here’s your chance.
11th and 12th Feb - Kings Head Theatre. London Book Tickets
17th Feb. Abbey Theatre. Hertfordshire Book Tickets
Running time – approx 1 hour 50 including interval
Produced by irrational theatre
Director and Designer – Paula Chitty
Lighting Bob Grover
MD /Pianist Peter Jones and John Whittaker
Flautist: Abi Clark
Home Time at The Space. One Festival Jan 2018
In Home Time by David Hendon,
Directed by Paula Chitty,
Cast. Elizabeth George.
★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ Read more
Reviews Read more
Review of The One Festival at The SpaceJANUARY 12, 2018 LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 12, 2018 4:30 PM BY Laura Thomas Elizabeth George gave a powerful performance as the harassed single mum Jennifer in David Hendon’s Home Time. Movement and timing were well directed by Paula Chitty, but the play was overlong, both in real time and the narrative arc it covered. Tending toward melodrama, it was a tragic story, but without the cathartic kick of a tragedy. Nevertheless, a compelling and gripping tale well executed. **** Review by Laura Thomas __________________________________________________ Frank Kaye (Sardines review) 7th October Hometime written by David Hendon and directed by Paula Chitty, was a triumph. Someone sat behind me said that we should have stood to applaud and I agree. Elizabeth George, who plays the sole protagonist, Jennifer, trained in both acting and mime and this is the perfect single hander for an actor with those skills. It is impossible to untangle the roles of writer, director and actor in achieving the outcome but that is what great theatre is all about. We are taken on a journey from the joy of a mother at home with a small child, through the mixed blessing of her meeting the father who only lasts a year to the final inevitable tragedy. The structure of the play is crucial, starting and ending in the present but going back in time for the middle sections. The structure is overlaid with beautifully written dialogue and then the genius element is the miming of the story. After about ten minutes I began to find the mime a bit distracting but the shift to a night club with appropriate music which ended with a perfectly timed crash and then the ultimate recognition that all this activity was the way that Jennifer coped with the loss resolved my concerns. The beauty of the writing, acting and direction was the way that we were given pictures of the many characters through the vivid descriptions. Ffion and her father stick in my mind especially when the father says he will “send a car” to pick up his seven-year old from the scene of a traumatic tragedy. Modern theatre often foregrounds objects, giving them equal status with actors. This play not only has some very simple objects – a red fire-engine, an ironing board, children’s’ clothes but also some vibrant images inserted into our imagination such the green fire-engine drawn by the little boy – which begins and ends the play. We also saw Jennifer laying out clothes on the floor as representations of her child and her schoolfriends. This last would work so much better in a studio theatre with raked seating.
Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing
Windsor. 4th. 5th. 6th October.
'Home Time - A triumph'
Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing
Home Time by David Hendon, directed by Paula Chitty
Review Read more
Frank Kaye (Sardines review) 7th October 2017
Hometime written by David Hendon and directed by Paula Chitty, was a triumph. Someone sat behind me said that we should have stood to applaud and I agree. Elizabeth George, who plays the sole protagonist, Jennifer, trained in both acting and mime and this is the perfect single hander for an actor with those skills. It is impossible to untangle the roles of writer, director and actor in achieving the outcome but that is what great theatre is all about.
We are taken on a journey from the joy of a mother at home with a small child, through the mixed blessing of her meeting the father who only lasts a year to the final inevitable tragedy. The structure of the play is crucial, starting and ending in the present but going back in time for the middle sections. The structure is overlaid with beautifully written dialogue and then the genius element is the miming of the story. After about ten minutes I began to find the mime a bit distracting but the shift to a night club with appropriate music which ended with a perfectly timed crash and then the ultimate recognition that all this activity was the way that Jennifer coped with the loss resolved my concerns.
The beauty of the writing, acting and direction was the way that we were given pictures of the many characters through the vivid descriptions. Ffion and her father stick in my mind especially when the father says he will “send a car” to pick up his seven-year old from the scene of a traumatic tragedy.
Modern theatre often foregrounds objects, giving them equal status with actors. This play not only has some very simple objects – a red fire-engine, an ironing board, children’s’ clothes but also some vibrant images inserted into our imagination such the green fire-engine drawn by the little boy – which begins and ends the play. We also saw Jennifer laying out clothes on the floor as representations of her child and her schoolfriends. This last would work so much better in a studio theatre with raked seating.
Fun at the Festival - Arcola Theatre
AN EVENING OF COMIC OPERA
AND NEW WRITING
Menotti. Sullivan. Norland
Arcola Theatre. (24.25.26 Aug)
Kings Langley (8th Sept)
Sondheim's A Little Night Music
click to read the review ;
Cast: Matthew Gregory, Charlotte Gregory . Peter Martin, Don Kaye, Kimberly Kaye. Leila Saleh, Katy Bingham Best. Jenna Clemence
Director / Designer - Paula Chitty
Costumes Paula Chitty / Maureen Chitty
Pianist /MD Peter Jones
Dance Choreorahy - Abigail Montalto
LX Bob Grover
An amateur production presented with kind permission of MTL Ltd
Lily and Bear - Royal Albert Hall + Tour
Lily and Bear By Lisa Stubbs .Directed and adapted to stage by Paula Chitty. February 2017 - on tour
With songs and animation - Once in a while, along comes the perfect picture book, bearing the hallmarks of a true classic.
Venue and booking details can be found here
This production is on tour - an has played at some of the below.
Any future dates will be announced on our Lily and Bear web page.
Past venues include:
http://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/lily-and-bear/ Albert Hall Elgar Room 11.30 and 2 pm
The Maltings Arts Theatre Feb 15th / 16th at 2 pm and 4 pm
Arcola Theate Sun 19th Feb 11.30 and 2 pm
It premieres at the Royal Albert Hall Lily loves Bear and Bear loves Lily. Lily loves to draw - and one day she draws Bear. Lily and Bear are best friends. And being friends means taking turns. A truly magical book about the give and take of friendship. Extraordinary NEW talent with an extraordinary NEW picture book - an instant classic!
‘The magical power of invention is at the centre of this warm-hearted story celebrating friendship and sharing’ The Guardian
Director and Production Design Paula Chitty
Publicity and Production David Bennett.
Produced by Lily and Bear Productions
Book author and illustrator Lisa Stubbs
Published by Boxer Books
Music and Lyrics by Jill Priest, arranged by David Forbes.
Animation by Matt Sandbrook
Cast : Visit http://www.liyandbearproductions.com
Tristram' Last Tango and Fat Lady sings- RADA - Director
Directed and Designed by Paula Chitty
Produced by Partnership Theatre Group
click to read the review ;
April GBS Studio / Rada
Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance - Designer - SACO
Designed by Paula Chitty
for Saco March 2017
Great Britain- New Writing - Direction - irrational theatre
Great Britain – An Evening of fresh new work
Directed and designed by Paula Chitty . October 2016
The Maltings Arts Theatre. 27th October at 8 pm.
Including a winning play from The Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing, a fun satire and some dance theatre. Join us for a fun evening of new work all about the country you love so much; Great Britain.
Katy Bingham Best, Sam Green, Dewi Williams and Vince McClouglin
No Cure yet for the Horse Chestnut – by Katy Walker.
Christo’s expertise and passion for trees brings him to Britain to find the solution to the diseased Horse Chestnut, but he encounters more than he bargained for. This was one of the 3 winning plays of The Kenneth Branagh Award from 309 submissions from 15 counties
The Voyages of Captain Ridley – by Yann Allsop
Wolves, coconuts, a man with a wooden leg… Moby Dick meets Sense and Sensibility, a one-man whirlwind piece of physical storytelling that will whisk you from the icy wilderness of the arctic to an English country manor, with storms, death and long johns.
The Green Man – By Peter Hale
Diversity in the work place - Your English right? I gotta value and respect every individual’s unique contribution to this company and seek to ensure that no one group or individual is disadvantaged…. It’s a creative opportunity to embrace, respond to and be relevant.
Free Bingo - by Paula Chitty/ irrational theatre
Born as Beano, bellowed as Bingo. In 1960 Britain was greeted by Bingo. How it came to captivate 3 million UK players.
Thursday 27th October 8 pm
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci - Director /Designer - Arcola Grimeborn Festival
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci - Arcola Grimeborn Festival . London **** 4 Stars
Directed and designed by Paula Chitty 30th August - 3rd September 2016
Paula Chitty reviews BWW Review: PAGLIACCI, Arcola Theatre, 31 August 2016 by Gary Naylor Sep. 1, 2016 Broadway and West End """"
The second opera in Irrational Theatre's double bill is the love triangle (plus one) of Pagliacci, the tale of the clown whose sexpot wife, Nedda, has turned too many heads in the travelling troupe. With echoes of Hamlet's play within a play, the evening's Commedia dell'arte show veers so close to real life, that Pagliaccio/Canio takes off his mask, takes matters into his own hands and tragedy on stage becomes tragedy in real life. Again, there's just David Podd on piano for the music, but he has a chorus to work with this time and singers who appear more relaxed in letting their voices dip and soar, filling the air, thrilling us in a way unique to boutique operas, so close are we to the performers. I've seen upwards of 25 such productions now and the impact of classically trained singers working (at times) within touching distance remains undiminished. Samantha Green's Nedda appears oblivious to her fate, transfixed by her lover, Silvio (a dashing Herbie Hill-Reid), and blind to the scheming of Tonia (Katy Bingham-Best in a gender flipped role), whose infatuation is met with a fatal disdain. A menacing, muscular Randy Nichol delivers his setpiece "Vesti la giubba", as he prepares to play his part in events anchored in both fiction and reality, with some skill, but I missed the strings and this most powerful of arias felt a little undercooked as a result. …in Italian (supported by very clear surtitles) this is about as accessible as the art form gets and, it has to be said, only opera's reputation for being difficult, demanding or posh stands in the way of anyone wishing to dip a toe in and try the temperature. At £20, it's fantastic value and an introduction to a world that can give anyone who enjoys theatre many years of entertainment. Pop along and see if you don't agree.
Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors- Director / Designer - Chiltern outdoor
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci- Director /Designer - Arts Theatre , West End
Leoncavallo's Pagliacci (Newly adapted - Sung in Italian with irrational surtitles)
The Arcola Theatre. September 2016
The Arts Theatre. West End. London Jan 2016
First performed at the Maltings Arts Theatre. Hertfordshire - Sept 2015
Cast and Creatives
Canio / Pagliacci - Randy Nicol.
Nedda / Colombina - Samantha Green.
Silvio / Stage Manager- James Schouten
Tonia / Taddeo - Katy Bingham Best.
Peppe / Arlechino - Pete Martin
Director/Designer/Costumes - Paula Chitty.
Adaptation by Paula Chitty
Music Director - Peter Jones.
Pianists Simon Haynes, Julian Trevelyan / Page Turner- Peter Trevelyan
Lighting - Bob Grover /Lighting Asst. Jack Hitch. Kate Reynolds.
Stage Management/Props. Paula Chitty
Super seamstress – Maureen Chitty
E Nesbit's Railway Children- Director / Designer - Odney Estate outdoor
Odney Club. 22nd. 23rd 24th July. wegottickets.com
Produced by Partnership Theatre Company .
It’s been a delight to work on E.Nesbit’s much loved classic; The Railway children, with a very enthusiastic team and charming cast who have worked very hard to stage this production in a short period.
We have been fortunate enough to acquire use of the original music score and the fitting setting of Grove House in the idyllic grounds of Odney, Cookham,
Welcome to a story full of innocence, charm and imagination as we follow the lives of young Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis whose father has mysteriously been taken away. Now the family must face upheaval from London to Yorkshire, adventure and growing up, friendship and magic as they seek help and start to unravel the mystery
A beautiful and nostalgic tale, faithfully adapted by Mike Kenny ‘You don’t need a real train to perform this play…the most powerful prop is the imagination’
We hope you enjoy watching this fast paced staging, of a play that has captivated generations.
Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party - Director /Designer - Rada/ The Barn/Maltings - irrational theatre
Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party
Party time hits the high notes - Herts Advertiser.
Directed and Designed by Paula Chitty
The Maltings Theatre. St Albans. 16th.17th and 18th April 2015
The Barn Theatre. Wewlyn Garden City Sept 2015
Presented with kind permission of Samuel French Ltd
Cast and review link to follow
Menotti's Old Maid and The Thief-Directors/Designer- Paula Chitty
Menotti's Old Maid and The Thief. - uniquely and imaginatively reflected in Paula Chitty’s set design and direction. Oxford Times
Directed and Designed by Paula Chitty
Produced by Opera Anywhere.
The Old Maid and the Thief – A one act comic opera by Gian Carlo Menotti
Uniquely and imaginatively reflected in Paula Chitty's set design and direction - Oxford Times
Under the surface of a small, quaint town lies a plethora if secrets.
A comic and twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power in Gian Carlo Menotti's radio opera, reworked to a fully staged version.
‘uniquely and imaginatively reflected in Paula Chitty’s design and direction’ (Oxford Times) Includes the beautiful arias ‘What curse for a woman, is a timid man (Steal me, sweet thief),” and “When The Air Sings of Summer,”
The Three Wayfarers- New opera - Director/Designer - Opera Anywhere
Brand new opera ‘The Three Wayfarers’ composed by John Whittaker
Directed and Designed by Paula Chitty
Produced by Opera Anywhere.
‘The Three Wayfarers makes for splendid entertainment and is guaranteed to send the audience home with a smile. ‘
Stephen Connock MBE Chairman Albion Records
Review: Had a great time watching a new opera The Three Wayfarers at The Unicorn Theatre, Very enjoyable performance!Jane May
Review : Loved John Whittaker’s new opera Three Wayfarers this evening – wonderful piece! Congrats on another great production. Fab cast . Special mention for excellent 13-year-old fiddler. Nicola Lisle