Reviewed: The Phantom of the Opera

Since there was so much buzz about this in “town”, I thought I might as well join in the drama <highfive yourself if you saw what I did there> with this Phantom menace. I went to see the show on October 06, 2014. Please do adequate Google and Daily Mirror searches to see a cast-list of who’s who. I do remember it from the top of my head but I’m being nice here.

Also, it dawned on me that my play / concert reviews are all running on the same lines, read: negative. Tsk. I suppose “negative reviews” work better on a production or even a movie. I mean everyone still remembers Rebecca Black or even that Ex-Alien chick. Thumbs up guys.

So, until the 06th, I had only “heard” and read abridged versions of The Phantom of the Opera. I hadn’t read the full manuscript, yes a shame for an English graduate but whatever. But based on my abridged readings, my first comment on the actual play itself was that I understood the entire shindig. Kudos on that.

But this post is all about what I didn’t like yes?

(c) Shamelessly stolen off Google.

Let’s start from the set. I am a vain individual that judges books by its covers. Given that, the “cover” I saw, for an elaborate production costing hundred thousands of rupees generously sponsored by a local enterprise that has abso-bloody-lutely no relation to theatre whatsoever, was pathetic. Oh don’t get me wrong, it was elaborate. Too elaborate to the extent of being gaudy. Again, I have neither seen the Broadway production, nor any other version of this, but the set could’ve cleaned up better. It was assembled and there was a set unlike the time where Jesus was born again, but it wasn’t neat and being marginally OCD, this actually matters. The same could be said of the costumes as well.

Another thing “N.B.” I had in mind before going for Phantom was that the country (or even the region) could not pull of musicals. Yes, before you throw tomatoes at me, I am aware that I cannot sing. HAHA. But this assumption was based Jesus Christ Superstar that had too many starstruck singers that didn’t come together as a “team” and a production I did in University with a very South Indian-accented Jesus.

I hope God forgives us for the sins we commit in the name of entertainment.

Back to my review, as a theatre enthusiast and someone who likes working for production in anything but the capacity of acting, I believe that the selling points for ANY production lies in either a great set or great acting. If both happens together, I cannot see greatness beyond that, but either of the two needs to take place.

But the problem with Phantom was that, it didn’t. Neither the set nor the acting was great. I was told that I should’ve gone on another day, but nangi please.

Now, why dear Lord am I obsessing with the set? Because they could’ve done so much more with it! The costumes as well! I speak of end slash finished products where it looks clean, neat, classy and something that was already in place and wasn’t assembled just for the production.

For Heaven’s sake, I speak of the Coleridge-an notion of “Willing suspension of disbelief” when I watch a play or a movie and I wasn’t transported to that imaginary slash make-believe realm the actors should’ve taken me into. Nor were the set-builders skilful enough to have made me want to request for a separate box during the meta-performances.

Since the Adamaly adaptation of The 39 Steps last May, nothing has escaped my mind but the sheer brilliance in which everything came together. (I seem to have written about it in the Jesus Christ Superstar review as well) To this date, the image of the stage (despite not having a very photographic memory!) makes me very proud of what Sri Lankan theatre has the potential to be. This particular paragraph also led to some serious stalking that I am not proud of. Teehee.

Since I’m more bias on the Production side of things as opposed to the Direction side of things, given that I don’t act, my “analysis” of the acting would be very brief. It was, okay. Not mediocre, there was definitely effort put into it and no adoption of false accents either, which was good. The singing was a little screechy though at times, or maybe that is what Opera is supposed to be, I do not know.

On other matters, we were told to expect fancy lights that would send those epileptic running out of the theatre. In hindsight, I’m glad that didn’t happen. Lol. But it wasn’t as “loud” as anyone expected. The sound I am told were all scores written from scratch, if this is true, damn son. Well done. Except for the chappie handling the sounds from the balcony, please get a room as the bright lights are annoying in a dark room.

But, eh, meh. Given that this was the first amateur performance in the continent, the theatre enthusiast in expected much more.

  • Acting : 6
  • Singing: 6.8
  • Costumes : 5.1
  • Set and Props : 4
  • Theatrical Devices : 6.2
  • Sound and Lights : 8
  • The Barthean Quantification of Quality (or overall rating on 10): 6.2
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