Describing this evening of improvised ‘opera’ leaves your critic almost lost for words; fortunately, being lost for words is clearly not something that troubles the multi-talented team that brings this farrago of musical mayhem to the Michael Tippett centre. The premise is this: four singers, male and female, and a piano accompanist (male) will take an audience on a roller-coaster ride through the world of opera and classical music by asking said audience to provide suggestions for musical styles, settings, and personnel which they will on the spot turn into brand new songs, tunes, and eventually an entire opera before your very eyes. And ears. A tall order, you might think. Well, not to the battery of extreme musical and comedic talent that these five represent.
The evening never flags, start to finish: even if you don’t get the multiple musical in-jokes it is always hysterically funny. These boys and girls are so fast on their feet with their genuinely witty, instantly made-up songs in rhyme, in tune and in whatever musical style the audience suggests that it takes the breath away. The grand finale in the second half, the once-only opera ‘The Squishy Dentist of Glasgow’ (don’t ask) even has non-threatening audience participation in which tonight’s crowd enthusiastically joins as chorus (improvised lyric of course); your critic even has a (very brief) solo. This is virtuoso stuff. If ever they are in your area don’t miss them; it will be one of the most rib-tickling evenings of original musical comedy you’re ever likely to see. And of course, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that literally no-one else will have seen anything like it.
***** (5 Stars)
John Christopher Wood