Romantically reimagined for 2017 with a slimmed-down cast and staging, this sharp-tongued, irreverent, foul-mouthed Marriage of Figaro rework sees talented actor-singers compete hard with non-stop musical mayhem that spins pop, electronic, RnB, West End and everything else into the mix.
The stage is three television light cones illuminating a sofa-squabbling couple (composer Stephen Hyde and his real-life girlfriend Amelia Gabriel, reality fans) duelling over remote control(s) as two shows (Keeping up with the Kardashians and The Marriage of Figaro) freeze, alternate and overlap around them. Initially it’s all Kim; hair-sleeking, attitude, nude high heels and spray-on jeans, Yasemin Mireille holds her brittle allure perfectly in hand; bluff James Edge as sex/romance obsessed Kris Humphries is barely in control of his balls (and often barely dressed). But a sweetly sullen Hyde has other ideas about the best show on TV. Enter Count Almaviva (Nathan Bellis, louche and unbuttoned) and Emily Burnett (Rosalie), all dignity and fire. Their disintegrating marriage has a touch of daytime shock re-enactments – "my husband married me for my beauty and now he’s shagging my maid!"
The TV flicker between stories orchestrates into a rota, then a two-TV duet, then eyelash-fluttering mayhem as the fourth wall come tumbling down. The dizzying layered vocals, multiple voices and genres are interlaced and overlapped with little regard as to whether words are audible; the result is an excitingly experimental, a half-conversational humansound which swirls seductively around the strings and synths, that revels in the intense pleasure of watching an emotional show in un/familiar language. Stepping out at Oxford’s Offbeat, before heading north for Manchester International Festival, this is typical festival fare; one shockingly intense act of bright, buzzy, memorable entertainment. By the time it gets to Edinburgh, mixes will be adjusted and edges knocked off; catch it while it’s hot and fresh!