The Welsh National Opera version of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, established in the 70s by director Joachim Herz, on the basis of meticulous research, and now directed by Sarah Crisp, delivers pure emotion with devastating directness.
Either ultra-topical or else historic with contemporary resonance are the smart choices of subject matter for any playwright seeking to thrill an audience. The building of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest structure, falls somewhere in between, given that it opened in 2010 and the maltreatment and suicides of its construction workers are old news.
Even in times when rehash is more common than originality, the risk with a revival of Burt Bacharach’s late 1960s musical Promises, Promises, in turn based on Billy Wilder’s 1960 film The Apartment, is that it feels doubly derivative.
I assumed I would be bored witless but I wasn’t for one second. Quite early on we were reassured it wasn’t just a Punch and Judy show.
Adaptations of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol began around 30 years after his death and proliferated during the 1930s and 40s with a wealth of radio productions, notably one featuring Orson Welles and sponsored by Campbell’s Soup.
For the non-initiate, The Beastie Boys were a group of white New Yorkers who made the leap from punk rock to hip hop. The result was the number 1 hit Licensed to Ill and an opening up to the white suburbs of a previously black musical phenomenon.
Sergio Blanco’s hugely ambitious text is a clever conceit. It is the story of T. a middle-aged man driven to investigate the theme of Oedipus for his new play. He does this by interviewing a young prisoner who is serving several life sentences for murdering his father.
This is an ambitious reinterpretation of Swan Lake from a modern Irish perspective. Embedded in this ‘ballet’ is an acute critique of the Irish clergy.
Akram Khan’s new vision of Giselle for English National Ballet is a brave political reinterpretation of the nineteenth century classic, set to Vincenzo Lamagana’s modern score. Classical ballet purists may find that both deviate too far from the original but there is much to admire.
John Lucas is entertained by Keith Hutson’s collection of poems about music hall – and by the performers who appear in it
Of all Shakespeare’s plays, the problematic Taming of the Shrew lends itself to tongue-in-cheek adaptations. Already a play-within-a-play in the original version, framing Shakespeare’s account of the shrewish Kate and her borderline-abusive Petruchio with a backstage broken romance ratchets up a notch the already absurdly charged sexual tension.
One of the most vexed questions around prostitution today concerns the legal status and rights of sex workers. Feminists and policy makers fall into two camps.