The demanding vocal performances and choreography in these two productions were delivered with all the drama and mastery of a Glynebourne or Royal Opera House performance. The costumes and set designs were magnificent, changing seamlessly whilst the orchestra, under Conductor Michael Rosewell’s baton proved to us again why the College’s world-class reputation has never dimmed. The musicianship is outstanding at this College,their performance electric, highlighting faultlessly the dynamics of every bar of these vibrant scores.
The two story lines could not be more different. The Dinner Engagement takes place in the kitchen of of Lord and Lady Dunmow, aristocrats who have fallen on hard times. Their dinner guests are the Grand Duchess Of Monteblonco, the place where Dunmow was former diplomat, and her son Prince Phillippe.
Rebekah Jones plays the Grand Duchess majestically , her vocals not impeded by the superb carrying of her ‘dowagers hump’ .The dinner takes place in the kitchen, an environment unknown to the Duchess.The hosts reluctant and willful daughter Susan is determined to despise the Prince and ruin the evening. However true love presents itself and reminds us of how love’s fortunate condition imports and elevates words and actions giving us the desired happy ending ,or, beginning…
Trouble in Tahiti completely contrasts this theme and follows the life of an unhappily married couple set in the backdrop of ‘its a wonderful life’ in 1950’s suburbia. The words and lyrics of this play are extraordinary . The writing is taut with not a word wasted and its delivery maintains the pace and emotion of the story throughout.
Enter affairs, business taking precedence over family life, vacuous lunches for ladies and the tragic loss of any meaningful conversation ‘at home’ and witness the demise of another marriage. But however, sad and futile this familiar and tragic story is this performance is far from familiar. The production tells us this stark tale in an abrupt and artful manner throughout taking into its reality in a dramatic and unique way. A significant accolade is deserved here for this achievement.
The demanding role of the erring husband is performed superbly by James Atkinson, a rising if not already formed star, however all the cast in both productions deserve full credit from these two first rate performances.