- Kate Herbert
- From: Herald Sun
- August 19, 2011 3:44PM
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Kismet, The Production Company, August 19, 2011
Kismet, The Production Company ***
KISMET, The Production Company, State Theatre, until August 21
KISMET is a musical cheekily perched on a fence between musical genius and racist parody.
Written in the politically incorrect 1950s, it fearlessly satirises Arabic culture and glorifies Baghdad as the cheeriest town in Mesopotamia.
The score, adapted from Alexander Borodin's soaring, classical style, paints an exotic landscape, as does the parade of Arab emirs, sultans, poets, beggars, criminals and belly dancers wearing vivid costumes.
Terence O'Connell's production has some uneven acting and is a little coy, perhaps unwilling to emphasise such blatant, racial parodies; there is an imbalance between the Arabian Nights exotica and the modernity of the choreography (Alana Scanlan).
Gary Rowley's rich, velvety, classical voice is a fine fit for Hajj, the street poet, singing Fate among others. He captures some of Hajj's cheekiness. Janet Todd's soprano is clear and bright, bringing warmth to Masinah, Hajj's daughter.
Kismet features two enchanting romantic duets, Strangers in Paradise and This Is My Beloved, and Todd's voice is thrilling in both. There is plenty of colour and choreography and some fine music played by Orchestra Victoria.
However, the show lacks a cohesive style and chooses to take no risks with the politics of the Middle East that are embedded in the script.
Star rating: ***