Wallen/Greer,Yes, Linbury Studio Theatre

1.00

 

The
starting and finishing point for Errollyn Wallen and Bonnie Greer’s chamber
opera Yes is Greer’s 2009 appearance
on BBC’s Question Time alongside the
British National Party’s Nick Griffin.

Entering the Linbury auditorium - opened up on this occasion to an audience on opposing sides of the action, as it were - the floor of the acting area is spattered with words reflecting the firestorm of publicity and debate which enveloped this now notorious event. But where is the debate in Greer’s self-reverential libretto? Why does she suppose that by simply stating the obvious – that Britain is a nation of immigrants – and then asking “why” might be the basis for a piece cast in that most dramatic of art forms: opera. We know where Yes begins and ends – it’s the void in between that is troublesome.

The issue of national identity and the evolution of multicultural Britain is, of course, one that needs to be restated and reiterated to those who would deny it and it is that – the history of this sceptred isle – that is the grouting for Greer and Wallen’s piece. The inferred irony of a Muslim woman delivering an era-by-era account of our heritage set to a succession of musical parodies might be amusing if it weren’t so patronising. For the really dumb among us, the names of our descendents flash up on the screen: Celt, Roman, Saxon, Norman, Dane, Viking, Huguenot, and so on. We have evolved from invaders and refugees; at heart we are a nation of immigrants; we get it. But is that it? Yes. Well, at least the title rings true.

It doesn’t help, of course, that Greer is unavoidably the central character in all of this, sitting at her desk marinating in quasi-poetic thoughts (“My life is solitary”), pondering the BBC’s invitation (“I said yes”), recalling her mother’s advice always to “be herself”. The truisms just keep coming. And the stereotypes. And the clichés. Director John Lloyd Davies keeps them coming: strobe, slo-mo, shadow play, even an animatronic cat. And amidst all the musical allusions there are only fleeting glimmers of Errollyn Wallen’s undeniable talent.

“Who’s listening, no one hears us”, reiterates the chorus against Wallen’s jazzy ostinati. One wanted to respond: when you’ve something to say, we’ll listen. Could an hour really be so long?

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk