Sarah Urwin Jones
August 20 2013
Wine women and song. Add a couple of drunken Glaswegians and a corpse and you have NOISE Opera’s good-natured pub-set opera, wittily reimagining centuries of tales from a Glasgow bar over the course of a few festival drinks. It began with a drunken man stumbling into an overcrowded room, slumping over his wine glass before singing a sizzled aria of lost love as the punters next to him – the opera ‘’band’’ – played their water filled glasses in mournful harmony.
Composed and conducted by Gareth Williams – who also doubled usefully as a corpse in one amusing scene – this Fringe revival asked us to make something of an imaginative leap in transferring the action from the dark wood panelling and stained glass of Glasgow’s Sloans Bar to a rather more genteel townhouse in Edinburgh’s leafy Rutland Square. We were aided by Louise Montgomery’s drily humorous landlady, who archly repainted the Arts Clubs’ upstairs gallery as Sloans’ Grand Ballroom, exhorting us to tak’ a drink to ease the scene changes.
Williams built his evocative score around the sounds of the pub – wine glasses sang or clinked, an accordion accompanied a dead man’s favourite tune. If there were a lot of clichés in David Brock’s libretto from the bling-obsessed bride (Miranda Sinani) to the ‘’amiable’’ alcoholic whose wife ‘’prefers him when he drinks’’ (Shuna Scott Sendall) it was all good-natured enough – and well played by the musicians integrated into the drama – to gloss over any reservations.
Best were the opening scenes, from the newlyweds fending off the irritating drunk, to a majestically off-key due (Alistair Digges and Douglas Nairne), drunkenly carousing over the body of a dead friend temporarily laid out in the bar.
Sarah Unwin Jones