Porgy and Bess, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, review: Gloriously sung Gershwin


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The Independent Culture

The hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention so repeatedly during Timothy Sheader's gloriously sung production that they are quite worn out by the end (and this is the streamlined version of the original yet!).

You first impression of the show as you take your seats in this lovely bosky amphitheatre may be rather puzzled.  Katrina Lindsay's design inexplicably chooses to represent Catfish Row by a great abstract sculpture of crumpled copper more that would appropriate for one Mozart's mythology-based operas. Oh but the rest.

Spare, resourceful staging (a few chairs and tables used with real dynamic) combines with the wonderful cast's full-hearted vocal battery at heaven's gate as they attack this mighty score with its matchless cross-fertilisation of black modes (gospel, spiritual etc) with a Jewish sensibility. Nicola Hughes brings all the torn sensuality of Bess, high on “happy dust” at the beginning and end. Rufus Bonds Jr brings a heartbreaking batttered dignity to the crippled Porgy. 

Cedric Neal is phenomenally snaky and insinuating as the preening drug-pusher – the build on “It Ain't Necessarily So” electrifying in its demonic cheek. And Golda Roshuevel keens with devastating force on the most melodically“avant-garde” but affecting of the numbers: “My Man's Gone Now”.  “Plenty o' Nuttin”? o, here we have God's plenty.

To Aug 23; 0844 826 4242