This modern adaptation of Puccini’s classic opera offers a different perspective of the tragic love story but often feels as though it trivialises it.
Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Becca Marriott’s new version of Puccini’s opera transports the action to Dalston in East London, when out of nowhere Ralph sees Mimi and it is love at first sight. But as their passion heats up, addiction and tragedy begin to take over the couple’s life and happiness.
There is no doubting the intimacy of the King’s Head Theatre, allowing the audience to feel as part of the action as possible – as the scene in which Musetta (Honey Rouhani) flirts shamelessly with a member of the audience proves, making it a strong anchor to keep the audience interested.
But the trouble is that despite this, this adaptation doesn’t emotionally engage you or make you care for the characters very deeply as all the action happens at a quick pace – it may have been love at first sight but even those who experience it take time to get to know each other over a period of time. Sadly, this isn’t helped by the almost casual lines with references to Amazon and Facebook among others that diminish the romance, the passion and the tragedy of the story.
But there is no problems with the casting however. Matthew Kimble as Ralph has plenty of personality and sincerity to make him a likeable character – even if at times vocally it was a little bit off. Thomas Humphreys as Mark is strong and confident and has great chemistry with Honey Rouhani as Musetta – whose bickering and name calling does amuse. Rouhani as Musetta is beautifully balanced between manipulative and flirty, but yet gradually allows her softer side to shine through – adding some redemption for her character. While Becca Marriott is strong enough vocally for Mimi – but could possibly bring her character out of her shell more.
Meanwhile, Becky-Dee Trevenen’s set is cosy and welcoming, perfectly capturing the bohemian lifestyle lived by all of the characters.
Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s production is filled with moments that make the audience laugh out loud such as the supposed ‘power cut’ that forces Mimi to stay with Ralph – but somehow moments like this also diminish the story and it is hard to really be touched or moved by the tragic ending.
The audience seemed delighted with it, but for me something just didn’t quite hit home which is a shame.
La Boheme will play at the King’s Head Theatre until the 8th October. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com/