Brett Herriot at the Festivals

Bare A Pop Opera, RSE Theatre – Wolfson Theatre (Venue 431) Review:

**** 4 Stars

“Chills the spine and tingles the senses! “

It’s now twenty-two years since Bare a pop opera made its debut in Los Angeles with book by Jon Hartmere and Damon Intrabartolo who also wrote the music with lyircs by Hartmere also. Developed as rock opera telling the story of a private catholic school it’s a true coming of age drama were lust, love, the yearning to grow up and the ultimate pain of loss are brought into focus as the students try to understand themselves and each other. 

Edinburgh based ELT have revived there 2019 fringe production and refreshed it for a new venue and deliver a production that sends chills down the spine and tingles the sense thanks to its outstanding cast.

Director Stuart Mitchell has delved deep into the human condition for this production ensuring that all the characters are fully fleshed out and remain honest and true throughout with some stand out performances.  Ryan Buist “Jason” is the centre point of the story as he battles with his sexual identity lurching from one mistake to another, never intending to hurt those he truly loves but ends up doing so. Buist delivers the character well, but his voice occasionally needs more projection to get across.  Daniel Cook’s take on Ryan delivers in spade going from jealousy to redemption with stark sense of humanity its captivating to watch. Zoe McRae stops the show with her performance “warning” as Claire.  Her raw emotion of the mother struggling to come to terms that not only is her son gay but also coming out is breathtaking in every sense of the word. The cast are uniformly excellent with not a single week link between them. However, the defining role is “Peter” play with astonishing maturity by Dylan McLaughlin. His piercing blue eyes strike right to the soul and his honesty cuts deep he simply wants to be loved for who and what he is, and that love comes at a hell of cost.

ELT deliver the full two hour and twenty-minute production with a short interval, and it’s a brave choice to work without microphones which would help overall sound quality especially as the show is performed using backing tracks played to the stage and opposed to the audience leaving an uneven balance. However Musical Director Filip Holacy does deliver spectacular vocals especially from Kathleen Davie as “Sister Chantelle” and Riona Bhreathnach as “Ivy”.

This is adult production with strong language and some heavy sexual scenes with drug use but it Mitchell’s emotionally powerful ending that sears itself in the memory, this is a production worthy of anyone’s Fringe diary. 

Bare a pop opera remains as relevant now as it did twenty-two years ago and ELT deliver a production that truly moves the heart and leaves us questioning why was the cost so heavy for those lost because who and what they were and who they loved and felt love from. 

Head to RSC Theatre for big slice of honest, truthful and emotion packed theatre. 

Bare A Pop Opera, RSE Theatre – Wolfson Theatre (Venue 431).  For tickets go to: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on#q=%22Bare%3A%20A%20Pop%20Opera%22

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