01
Aug
13

The Lady of the House of Love

 

The Lady Of The House of Love

Presented by the Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane City Council and Metro Arts

Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre

26 July – 3 August 2013

 

Reviewed by Guy Frawley

 

Let’s just cut straight to the chase here, I’m about to give you roughly 500 words on why I think you should pull out your credit card, log onto the metro arts website and book yourself (and hopefully your friends) tickets to go and see The Lady of The House of Love. If you’re not in a reading mood however, let me just lead with the sentence below.

 

This show is a one hour reduction of utter professionalism that showcases everything I love about the creative process.

 

Inspired? Please, do yourself a favour and book yourself a ticket or two. Intrigued? Read on.

 

theladyofthehouseoflove

 

On Friday night I walked into Metro Arts with little to no idea of what I was about to witness, a basic level of Facebook stalking had educated me enough to know that the British author Angela Carter, in the form of her anthology The Bloody Chamber, had provided the source material for the evening. However, apart from this and the glam rock marketing photos, I was flying blind. Goth chic styling and a 70s horror literature pedigree alone isn’t something to sniff at, but Sandro Colarelli injects this performance with sufficient backbone to rib a second Victorian lace corset! (More on the corset later).

 

Walking into the theatre and taking my stage side seat, my curiosity was further piqued by the staging. At the same time monastic and lush, the simple down spotlight shining through the intricately carved wooden partition, and the dusting of rose petals across the naked stage began to set the scene. Set designer Josh McIntosh and Lighting designer Andrew Meadows really managed quite a lot with very little.

 

As the stage darkened and the first haunting musical notes began to sound, Colarelli emerged from behind the wooden screen and began to welcome us into his theatrical inner sanctum. The meaning of the partition itself seemed to warp throughout the show as many times as Colarelli, from altar, to boudoir screen to confessional partition. We were not met however by a priest offering benedictions, but by a siren of the gilded silver screen, wrapping her enchanted and undead talons around our very beings and dragging us into the magical realism of Angela Carter’s dark world.

 

A story told from two perspectives, that of a cunningly frail, un-dead nymphette and a naïve, young English soldier, Daniel Evans has done a really beautiful job adapting the script from Carter’s original prose. After seeing this show I tracked some sections of The Bloody Chamber and Evans has managed to translate the sumptuous usage of language and imagery that Carter seems to do so well.

 

Maybe it’s a product of his experience with the physical theatre company Zen Zen Zo, but Colarelli is a man who is in absolute control of every inch of his body for every second of his time on stage. A talent that makes his attempt to portray both of the previously mentioned characters a complete success. His vocal abilities were also an absolute delight to witness. The character and emotion he was able to convey, even whilst jumping from perspective to perspective in the blink of an eye, was truly enviable. That he was able to do all of this whilst constricted within a cinched corset made it all the more impressive.

 

I’ve always loved vampire fiction, my first real introduction being Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and after the disappointing failure of the Elton John penned musical Lestat I think she should have a word or two with Jake Diefenbach, who served as both composer and musical director. I doubt the creative team would be overly thrilled with me using the phrase ‘vampire musical’ anywhere here, but from what I saw on Friday, Diefenbach  would have been a far better fit than Elton John. His score was absolutely fantastic and you’d be a fool to leave the theatre, as I did, without purchasing yourself a copy of the soundtrack that’s available. I’ll be swinging by Metro Arts when I’m back in Brisbane later this week, and will be grabbing myself a copy as I haven’t been able to get the music out of my head!

 

 

I read an interview Colarelli had given just before opening and he mentioned how blessed he felt to be working with such an amazing team. It’s no wonder, because from what I saw it would appear as if every single person involved in the development, production, staging and performance of this piece is as talented in their own field as Colarelli is as a performer.

Now go and see this show! I just might see you there during my second time around.

 

 

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