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Puccini’s Tosca review

If you’ve never seen an opera before, perhaps because you can’t justify the West End price tag or fear you’ll be lost following the surtitles’ storyline, then Upper Street’s King’s Head Theatre and its vibrant new production of Tosca is the perfect place to start. 

Stirring familiar melodies (rousingly performed by a single piano, cello and two clarinets) are brought to life in this brand-new libretto in English by Becca Marriott and Adam Spreadbury-Maher with a re-imagined Tosca and her artist lover, Cavaradossi, in Paris, August, 1944. 

Tosca The King's Head Theatre
Cast L-R: Roger Paterson, Thomas Isherwood, Michael Georgiou, Becca Marriott. Photo by Nick Rutter

Act One sees Cavaradossi hastily give refuge to a desperate Jewish political prisoner (Thomas Isherwood skilfully embodies the escapee Jacob Cohen before later seamlessly switching characters to become a menacing Nazi henchman) in the basement of The Café de Flore.

Whilst hiding Jacob, we’re treated to a playful, sexually charged exchange between jealous Tosca (Becca Marriott delivers an extraordinarily powerful portrayal of our heroine) who accuses her man Cavaradossi (Roger Paterson’s impressive vocals make up for an occasional lack of believability) of fooling around with another woman. Little does Tosca know that Jacob Cohen’s hiding beneath the pair as they smooch away, drawing audience laughs from some well timed comedic capers.

But you don’t have to be familiar with this particular storyline to realise that the pair are destined to meet with tragedy. As we move into Act Two, the war raging around them, it’s inevitable that the tyrannical head of the Paris Gestapo, Scarpia (you’ll love to hate him in this impressive, insidious portrayal by Michael Georgiou), is going to have his wicked way… Our hearts simply break for Tosca as torture and pain close in around her, and she must make an impossible choice in order to protect all she holds dear…

Becca Marriott as Floria Tosca - Photo by Tim James Medley
Becca Marriott as Floria Tosca – Photo by Tim James Medley

The King’s Head Theatre have firmly established themselves as one of the foremost producers of accessible, small scale opera, and this new version of Tosca marks the third opera production at the venue  in 2017 following original re-tellings of Madam Butterfly and The Magic Flute. 

Throughout October two casts will perform Puccini’s tragic masterpiece. The theatre is about to move next door so take this opera-tunity to catch a show in this iconic, intimate space while you can!

Cast: Becca Marriott, Roger Paterson, Michael Georgiou, Thomas Isherwood Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher Musical Director Panaretos Kyriatzidis Designer Becky-Dee Trevenen Writers: Becca Marriott and Adam Spreadbury-Maher Theatre: Kings Head Theatre, Upper Street, London Duration: 120 mins (with interval) Dates: 27 September – 28th October 2017, 7pm


Angela Johnson
Angela Johnson
Angela is Theatre Editor at Entertainment Focus. A journalist and writer, she's a 'plastic' scouser now living in London. She loves absorbing all 'the arts' the capital has to offer, especially live comedy.

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