2 October 2013

The Wasp Factory at Linbury Studio Theatre

The Wasp Factory is one of the most extraordinary performances that I have ever seen and any casual reader of this blog will know that I am not unaccustomed to going to unusual shows.

And I only saw this by accident, somebody else was attracted to the opera via the Iain Banks book and I tagged along for the ride knowing nothing of the book or of this adaptation.

Several things combined to make it extraordinary and while some of these had resonances with some other shows that I had seen  other elements were new and the result of putting them all together was decidedly so.

The music was partially electronic and partially acoustic with a small band on the stage battling with some relentless rhythmic sounds. There were touches of Glass' 1000 Airplanes on the Roof here in the dark musical onslaught.

The set was lit by low lights on each side of the stage to produce sharp contrast. That was not unusual but what the stage did was. It started as the island flat and covered with soil before tilting in stages until it was vertical and became a burning house.

The story (I think it was a story) was delivered by three singers who did everything from crawl in the earth to climb the structure with safety harnesses on. And they sung beautifully. There were no surtitles and none were needed.

The Wasp Factory remained dark and threatening throughout and was not cheapened by an interval.

I've only touched lightly on some of the key elements but everything about the production had clearly been thought through in some detail and with great care. Every part was perfect and the way that they came together was better still.
The Wasp Factory was one of those extraordinary performances that does so much that it defies categorisation; yes it was an opera but it was also much more than that. It was also so stunning that my first reaction was that I wanted to see it again immediately.

The Wasp Factory was simply one of the best things that I have ever had the privilege to witness.

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