THE RING CYCLE PLAYS
Adapted from the librettos of Richard Wagner
By Phil Willmott & Lisa Kuma
The Scoop at More London, Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2DB to 31 August 2014
Wed- Sat 6pm
Runs 4hr 25 mins Three intervals, to 31 08 14
Review: William Russell 15 August
Shenanigans, giants and dragons in Valhalla – but Wagner’s plot creaks.
It is sometimes possible to get too much of a good thing and there is no denying that the drama concocted by Phil Willmott and Lisa Kuma after Richard Wagner has lots of good things to offer. But it does go on a bit, and when one takes away Wagner’s music the dramatic infelicities of his libretti for the Ring cycle of operas becomes pretty obvious.
There is nothing wrong with the language. Willmott and Kuma have come up with a literate, witty and to the point text and the staging by Wilmott and Racky Plews is inventive and exploits the Scoop, a grey concrete amphitheatre next door to City Hall, most effectively. The Valkyrie do ride, a dragon does appear, and puppets have been used with considerable skill. There is a splendidly evil raven for a start.
But the plot really is pretty dreadful – Tolkien really did tell a better tale about a ring with magic powers – and it is hard to get enthused about a man who has fallen in love with his auntie and is the product of a liaison between a brother and sister.
It is, of course, all due to the bad behaviour of Wotan, king of the gods, played by Willmott, who does sleep around a lot, and the theft of that wretched ring from the Rhine maidens which exercises a baleful effect on everyone who acquires it.
Willmott’s Wotan, however, is oddly lacking in godlike presence. He does not command the stage when he should.
Claire Jeater, however, is splendid as his long suffering wife, Frika, Philip Scott-Wallace does a barnstorming double turn as Siegmund, Wotan’s son by a mortal woman, and Siegfried, Sieglund’s son by Sieglinde, Wotan’s daughter by a mortal woman, and Amy Christina Murray is a spunky Brunnhilde.
The evening consists of four parts – The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and The Twilight of the Gods. Each lasts about 50 minutes and there are three intervals, the middle one being a supper break of about 40 minutes.
Rhine Maidens: The Company
Alberich the Troll King: Phil Sealey
Gunther, his son: Christopher Hines
Gutrune, his daughter: Latoya Lees
Mime, his brother: Terence Frisch
Wotan, king of the gods: Phil Willmott
Loki, the demi-god of fire: Adam Hughes
Frika, Wotan’s wife: Claire Jeater
Siegmund, his son: Philip Scott-Wallace
Sieglinde, his daughter: Latoya Lees
Hunding, her husband: Christopher Hines
Siegfried, Wotan’s grandson: Philip Scott-Wallace
The Valkyrie: The Company
Brunnhilde, Wotan’s daughter by Erda the earth spirit: Amy Christina Murray
Fasolt, a giant: Terence Frisch
Fafner, also a giant and his brother and later a dragon: Christopher Hines
Directed by Phil Willmott with Racky Plews
Movement Director: Racky Plews
Set and Costume Designer: Sara Perks
Puppet Designer and Director: Charlie Hoare
Composer and Sound Designer: Theo Holloway
Lighting Designer: Jason Meininger
Fight Director: Marcello Marascalchi