Review: The Elixir of Love
Image courtesy King's Head Theatre
Cast and creatives
Adina: Alys Roberts
Gina: Caroline Taylor
Nicky: David Powton
Brandon: Themba Mvula
Dulcamara: Matt Kellett
Brandon: Theo Perry
Gina: Shana Moron-Caravel
Adina: Caroline Taylor
Main cast do all performances except:
Tuesday 1st October: Theo Perry covering Themba Mvula (Brandon)
Wednesday 9th October (Matinee): Shana Moron-Caravel covering Caroline Taylor (Gina) & Caroline Taylor covering Alys Roberts (Adina)
Wednesday 9th October (Evening): Shana Moron-Caravel covering Caroline Taylor (Gina)
Tuesday 15th October: Theo Perry covering Themba Mvula (Brandon) & Shana Moron-Caravel covering Caroline Taylor (Gina) & Caroline Taylor covering Alys Roberts (Adina)
Tuesday 22nd October: Theo Perry covering Themba Mvula (Brandon)
Saturday 26th October (Matinee & Evening): Theo Perry covering Themba Mvula (Brandon)
The King's Head Theatre's final opera production of 2019 is the The Elixir of Love as you've never seen it before.
This new English version of Donizetti's dazzling comic opera blends the sensational music with a decidedly different take on the astonishing tale of romance and magic.
Gaetano Donizetti's two act comic opera L'elisir d'amore gets a modern reworking in a new English version by Chris Harris and David Eaton, making this ever-popular work more accessible for what should easily prove an even wider audience.
Not that Donizetti's work has ever wanted for much in the way of success.
Premiering in 1832, it quickly established a substantial reputation and was the most often performed opera in Italy up to the middle of the 19th century.
Since then it's managed to maintain it's popularity getting rather more than its fair share of operatic stage time.
No wonder, then, that Islington's King's Head Theatre eagerly snapped-up this new version given the venue's worthy intent to make high quality opera available to more theatregoers through its leading position on London's fringe scene.
We get transported back to Barry in the south of Wales just prior to the start of the Falklands War - so we're in the early part of 1982 at the outset of this uncomplicated yet appealing story.
David Powton's love-sick Nicky is enamoured with Adina (played by Alys Roberts) who is the attractive owner of a cafe where one can get a coffee and some Welsh cake for a mere 90 pence.
In spite of the fact that Nicky spends most of his time slurping Adina's coffee, he can't find the inner courage to declare his love and sweep her off her feet.
(From left) Alys Roberts (Adina), Themba Mvula (Brandon), Caroline Taylor (Gina) - photo (c) Bill Knight
And matters become more complicated and gloomy for the hapless Nicky once a 'casanova' naval captain called Brandon fetches up on leave and becomes a formidable competitor for Adina's affections.
Nicky's hopes of a romantic entanglement with Adina seem dashed but then a travelling quack doctor called Dulcamara arrives on the scene selling love potions and offering an instant resolution.
Clutching at straws, Nicky is quickly duped into buying a bottle of the (supposedly) fabulous liquor - with Dulcamara insisting it needs a day to work in order to give him time to safely flee the area.
Matthew Kellett as Dulcamara - photo (c) Bill Knight
Though Alys Roberts and David Powton have the best songs, it's Matthew Kellett's charmingly duplicitous but affable Dulcamara who pretty-much steals the show, getting a particularly appreciative reception from the responsive audience.
For those who don't necessarily head out to opera very often this is the perfect vehicle to introduce you to the genre - and possibly turn you into an addict.
But there's plenty to admire here for everyone - opera aficionados included, I would think.
Simple piano accompaniment means that the singing never gets drowned out and the English lyrics are delivered in crystal clear fashion by a team of terrific, highly talented singers.
A simple but compelling storyline transcribed into modern-day language (suitably peppered with earthy expletives) provides plenty of comedy and is comprehensible to all.
Two fairly short acts split by an interval make this a swiftly delivered affair.
If that sounds like it's a touch too short, it really isn't - more a case of being ample without becoming stale, laboured or in any way overbaked.
There's more comedy in the first act, but the compensation come the second is that there are some lovely, rich melodies to savour especially from Alys Roberts and David Powton, both in fine form.
Ably building on Donizetti's original rather than taking extreme liberties with it, The Elixir of Love proves hugely impressive and great fun too.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for King's Head Theatre
Our show listing for The Elixir of Love
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