Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Thursday, 6 November 2014
Passion, Sondheim, REVIEW, Nov 5, 2014 ***
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim & Book by James Lapine Based on
film, Passione D’Amore by Ettore Scola By Life Like Company
Playhouse, Arts Centre
Melbourne, Nov 5 to 8, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Full review also published online in Herald Sun today, Nov 6. It will also run in print tomorrow, Nov 7, 2014. KH
Kane Alexander & Silvie Paladino. Pic by Ben Fon
Sondheim’s score for Passion is luscious and emotive, capturing the essence of
this boldly dramatic story of clandestine affairs and unrequited love.
musical opens with Georgio (Kane Alexander), a young soldier, and his
beautiful, married lover, Clara (Silvie Paladino), entwined in each other’s
arms in a rumpled bed and singing of their unbounded happiness and secret love.
Georgio is transferred from Milan to a remote, provincial military base, the
two keep their love alight with intimate letters.
Georgio is unprepared for the unwanted, relentless attentions of Fosca (Theresa
Borg), the ailing, lovelorn cousin of Colonel Ricci (Mark Dickinson).
and James Lapine’s Tony Award winning musical is set in Milan in 1863 and based
on Ettore Scola’s film, Passione D’Amore.
story is operatic in style with heightened characters, and Sondheim embodies
this dramatic quality in his expressive lyrics, melodies and often surprising
atmospheric score is rich in tone and colour with arrangements (originally by
Jonathan Tunick) that are capably played by the orchestra under conductor, Guy
production, directed by Neil Gooding, succeeds in the greater part because of
the fine singing and evocative music, but the direction veers toward the
melodramatic and the acting is uneven.
clear, bright voice is well suited to the elegant, rich and beautiful Clara,
while Alexander’s delivery has warmth and vigour.
opening duet, Happiness, has an intoxicating ardour and their story continues
with a series of duets as they sing their impassioned love letters.
it is the character of Fosca that is the pivot of this tale of blasted dreams
as her obsessive love for Georgio smoulders then blazes, destroying both Fosca
captures the melancholic Fosca in her portrayal of this pallid, dark-eyed
wraith who drifts in and out of the soldier’s mess, grasping at Georgio,
demanding his love and manipulating him into spending time with her.
upper register is pretty as she expresses Fosca’s pitiful need and ignorance of
love, but her lower register that needs to express Fosca’s darker depths has
less power and control.
soldiers’ chorus provides thrilling harmonies that echo the words of Fosca,
Georgio and Clara, but their choreography needs tightening and, when these men
play women, it looks uncomfortable and inappropriately comical.
production is musically tantalising, but the direction and acting style do not
quite do justice to the drama and mood of this unusual Sondheim musical.