Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel Critics & Reviews
Jack the Ripper: The Women of WhitechapelTime Out Says
London's most notorious murderer is stalking the stage of the Coliseum in this newly commissioned opera. But hopefully this take is a bit more sensitive than some of the more ghoulish Ripper yarns out there. Emma Jenkins' libretto puts all the focus on the group of women who are drawn together in 1880s Whitechapel as trouble looms, and interrogates the hypocrisy of Victorian morality.
British composer Iain Bell is taking on the project as his follow-up to other explorations of London's history, including 'The Harlot's Progress'(2013), and 'In Parenthesis'(2016). His emotive score will be sung by performers including Alan Opie, Lesley Garrett, and Claudia Boyle. Martyn Brabbins and ENO boss Daniel Kramer direct.Ref Link: Time Out
Iolanthe, Coliseum, London, review: The first two acts are nowhere near funny enough
Cal McCrystal’s new ‘Iolanthe’ sticks faithfully to the text, with wild fairy costumes and lavish designs, while Samantha Price in the title role makes the most of her big Verdian aria
Arthur Sullivan and WS Gilbert didn’t like each other and didn’t have much in common, and both had loftier ambitions than the creation of operettas. But if they’d stuck to those ambitions, they wouldn’t be remembered today.
They were put in harness to create an English school of comic opera to rival the Parisian operettas of Offenbach, and while sometimes equalling that composer in melodic invention, they outdid him in terms of both comedy and satirical bite. Yet even today – or perhaps especially today, given the new nervousness regarding any kind of gender joke – there are supposedly sophisticated people who don’t get the point.
Timeless this art form may be, but it can still be tricky to bring off. Jonathan Miller’s peerless Mikado has been packing the Coliseum for 30 years, but other G&S productions have missed the mark: Mike Leigh’s ENO Pirates were too quietly tasteful.
Iolanthe includes some deliciously convoluted gender jokes, and at the same time lets fly at the British political class in a manner that needs no updating. The fairy Iolanthe has fallen in love with a mortal, and has given birth to a half-caste son, Strephon, who is a fairy down to the waist but has the legs of a mortal. When, after the House of Lords has been drawn into the plot by an irate Fairy Queen, and Strephon has been put in charge of them as a punishment, his first decree is that – shock horror! – entry to the peerage should be by competitive examination.
Apart from the inevitable Boris peer, there are virtually no topical allusions in Cal McCrystal’s new Iolanthe, which sticks faithfully to the text and allows conductor Timothy Henty to tease out all the beauties in the score. The costumes for the fairies are wild, and the designs by the late and much-missed Paul Brown are crazily opulent – the Lords make their appearance aboard Stevenson’s Rocket – but McCrystal is a slapstick merchant, and he’s created a frantically busy backcloth of running sight-gags and stuffed animals which have little connection with the plot. Moreover, he opens with a bolted-on piece of music-hall by a Victorian fireman which unhelpfully defuses the action in advance (and contains a piece of tastelessly sexist smut that should be excised forthwith).
The first two acts are too effortful, too careful – even that celebrated farceur Andrew Shore seems to be reining himself in – and the result is nowhere near funny enough. The first song that brings the house down comes very late on – “In for a Penny, In for a Pound” – and that is thanks to the fact that Ben Johnson and Ben McAteer find exactly the right mode of deadpan deliberation which, in their heyday, the unjustly-axed D’Oyly Carte company (which some of us still remember) had to a T.
McCrystal should understand that there is a world of difference between this and am-dram. But this evening does offer some fine individual performances. Yvonne Howard’s Fairy Queen is splendidly Wagnerian, Samantha Price as Iolanthe makes the most of her big Verdian aria, Ellie Laugharne’s Phyllis charms, and Marcus Farnsworth’s tap-dancing Strephon is winningly ingenuous.By
: Michael ChurchRef Link
St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ES
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St Martin's Lane, London, WC2N 4ESCapacity
With 2,359 seats, the London Coliseum is the largest theatre in London’s West End. It was designed for Sir Oswald Stoll by Frank Matcham, the leading theatre architect of his day.Quick facts
the London Coliseum has the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high)
the stage is 80 feet wide, with a throw of over 115 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony
it was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting
it was built with a revolving stage which consisted of three concentric rings and was 75 feet across in total and cost Stoll £70,000
the theatre was one of the first two places in Britain to sell Coca-Cola (the other was Selfridges)
The 'people's palace of entertainment'
The vision was to create a theatre of variety, in the largest and most impressive theatre in London.
Designed by Sir Oswald Stoll, Stoll’s ambition was to create the largest and finest ‘people’s palace of entertainment’ of the age.
The theatre’s original slogan was Pro Bono Publico (for the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
The original programme was a mix of music hall and variety theatre, with the grand finale – a full-scale revolving chariot race – requiring the stage to revolve.Second World War
The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968.
During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Precaution (ARP) wardens, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage.
After 1945 the theatre was mainly used for American musicals before becoming a cinema for seven years from 1961.The home of opera sung in English
In 1968 the theatre reopened as the London Coliseum, when it also became the home of Sadler’s Wells Opera with a new pit created to accommodate a large opera orchestra.
In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera, reflecting the company’s position in the heart of national culture.
As well as being the home of opera sung in English, dance also continued to play an important part in the life of the London Coliseum – a fact that continues to this day with many national and international dance companies performing at the theatre during the breaks between ENO productions.Restoration
The company bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon and Hazel Ellis and a number of generous trust and individual donors to whom we are extremely grateful.
The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. An original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications. The theatre re-opened in 2004 Present day
In 2015, ENO announced a plan to open up the London Coliseum with a redevelopment of the front of house spaces, intended to encourage more people in to explore the beautiful interiors of the theatre.
The renovation project focused on the architectural qualities of the Grade II* listed building to reclaim its original Edwardian elegance for a new generation of audiences.
Radio-wave system in the auditorium and induction loop at box office and all bars.
Guide dogs allowed into auditorium, alternatively staff are happy to dog sit in the manager's office.
10 spaces for wheelchair/scooter users in total: 2 at back of Dress circle, 4 in Stall boxes and 4 at back of Stalls (companions can sit beside the wheelchairs users). 10 wheelchair/scooter transfer spaces: 4 in Dress Circle and 6 in Balcony. Theatre also provides 2 wheelchairs for loan.
No steps to toilets off the foyer. More toilets at Dress Circle, Upper Circle (women's 10 steps up), Balcony and Basement.
Adapted toilets at Basement, Stalls, Dress Circle (no steps from lift) and Balcony levels.
Good leg room in stalls; B1-4, B33-36, C1 and C39 in the Stalls provide the best leg room.
No steps to Stalls bar and bars in rear Stalls corridor. Further bars at Balcony, Upper and Dress Circles can be accessed by main lift. Dutch Bar on basement level (reachable by lift) accessed by platform lift or down 3 steps. Drinks cannot be taken into the auditorium.
Telephones are 10 steps down from the foyer Facilities At London Coliseum
Seat plan: London Coliseum Seat Plan
Facilities: Air conditioned
Infrared hearing loop
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
Tube lines: Piccadilly, Northern
Location: West End
Railway station: Charing Cross
Bus numbers: 24, 29, 176 / 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139
Night bus numbers: 24, 176, N5, N20, N29, N41, N279 / 6, 23, 139, N9, N15, N11, N13, N21, N26, N44, N47, N87, N89, N91, N155, N343, N551
Car park: Q-Park: Chinatown (5mins) / Other: St Martin's Lane Hotel (1min)
Within congestion zone?: Yes
Directions from tube: (3mins) Take Cranbourn Street until St Martin’s Lane, where you head right until you reach the theatre.