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THEATRE REVIEW: Tosca @ Tyne Theatre & Opera House

October 13, 2017 12:39 pm

5th October

For more listings at Tyne Theatre & Opera House click here

Review by Jade Gadd

You’ve seen subtitled movies, now introducing, subtitled opera. This modern remake of an opera classic used modern day technology to make the performance more accessible to a wider audience.

The building was like many old memories, nice to look at and enjoy, but less than fully functional in today’s society. I found myself wondering if it was made in a time when humans inhabited tiny lands such as Pixie Hollow instead of the skyscrapers and modern open-plan buildings of today.

It was, just, wheelchair accessible. The entire building was made in an inverted V shape. I think everyone had a feeling of either walking on heels or on a boat depending on if they were going with or against the gradient. Obviously a lot of effort had gone into making the sardine tin inclusive for all. While it was a little rough around the edges, the building’s charm was infectious and before long the audience was already mentally going back in time, which was lucky seen as the opera itself would require further time-travel.

In the tiny little theatre we were only a couple of metres away from the orchestra and a few more from the stage. It was definitely a unique opportunity to make new friends with the ice-breaker of proximity. Needless to say, with people almost on top of each other’s laps, it was… intimate.

I must hand it to the theatre, one member of staff in particular shone like the star that he is. James made my topsy turvey trip easy and fun. Had it not been for the effort from the staff I may not have been able to attend the performance at all in my giant electric wheelchair. They went above and beyond to make the trip a memory to remember for the right reasons, not for playing dodgem cars at the beginning.

The room flooded with people dressed in a mix of penguin suits and t-shirts, sparkly dresses and more t-shirts. Most of the audience was 50+ and divided in couples- some obviously on a date night, others having a little bit of fun doing something new. One couple in particular struck me, the lady had lost her father and her daughter was there with her to grieve through the art of theatre. “We’re really enjoying it. It’s bringing back memories of when my mam and her late dad (who was Italian) used to take her to the opera.”

Tosca is well known for being a tragedy, yet there was laughter over the dramatic irony as (SPOILERS) Tosca makes Mario promise to ‘fake’ death ‘naturally’ and he promises to make it look real; all the time the audience knows it will be real and that this promise will be fulfilled for a whole other reason. Tosca’s words “There, die. Ah what an actor!” were so bittersweet I’m not sure anyone knew what to do. (END OF SPOILERS)

The actors were great! The actor who played Scarpia reminded me of Agent Rossi of Criminal Minds which was incredibly hard to shake from my head after I noticed the similarity. The Soprano hit notes I didn’t even know existed. At times I felt like we needed a #DramaQueen at the bottom of the stage. It was wonderfully over the top. Other-worldy. It was bliss to forget the real world and only think of the story of ancient strangers for a while.

The story itself (SPOILERS… again) reminded me of the Killers song Mr. Brightside. Basically, jealousy and lies are bad. Don’t we teach toddlers these things? Without people being dishonest and disloyal none of the story’s tragic moments would occur.

Jean Valjean, I mean… Mario, is the unfortunate victim of other people’s deeds. As far as I can see, for the most part, he was just trying to do what was morally right for his friend and his lover. Unfortunately this ran perpendicular to the law. Mario’s story is the truly tragic one. Tosca, however, plays a part in digging her own grave and does have choice. I wouldn’t judge her negatively for some of these choices, but she is certainly not an innocent party. She definitely chooses to take a leaf out of Wonder Woman’s book with her ‘women can kill just as well as men,’ attitude.

With her red scarf I did partly hope that the beautiful orchestra music may evolve into Chicago’s Cell Block Tango, but that is another musical for another day.

I found the scene where the executioners are shown to be people, deeply impacting. Not just men with guns, people, childlike people. It makes me question the morality of letting such innocent minded people pull the trigger.

The story was simple but effective. Torture. Passion. Pain.

As a viewer I wanted to warn the characters like Willy Russel’s “Lambs in spring” so that they don’t have to have such bitter ends.

Alas the red scarf still floated to the floor as the curtain fell. Our tears along with it.

 

(END OF SPOILERS… again)

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