One of the primary aims of
There are some really lovely moments of tentative harmonies and cannoning, which I think could be really pretty with a little more confidence and projection
The story opens with a group of children going through their grandmothers things. As they do, they are told a story about her, and how she and her cousins helped to save a young chimney sweep, and the children decide to act it out. Their uncle (played by MD Adrian Connell) suggests that they act it out in the form of an opera. The plot then follows that of a young boy, sold by his parents to Black Bob and Clem, the local chimney sweeps. He is treated unfairly by the men, forced to work in horrible conditions, until a group of children find him up their chimney, stuck and crying they decide to rescue him, clean him up, hide him from harm and help him to run away to safety. I have to congratulate this small, young cast for sheer confidence and bravery. With the average age being approximately 12-13 years old, they plod along with this as best they can, carrying the whole show on their little shoulders. There are some really lovely moments of tentative harmonies and cannoning, which I think could be really pretty with a little more confidence and projection.
What becomes glaringly obvious, however, is that with the exception of maybe one or two, this cast just don’t have the voices to carry off anything near an operatic style. Recitative sections sound mumbled and at times a little as though they are being improvised on the spot.I can understand why this show could seem like a good choice in its attempt to be an opera for children, played by children. However the story line is desperately old fashioned, which at times makes the cast come across as precocious rather than confident. The few children who are in the audience quickly became restless and I could hear them chatting and questioning what was happening around me. Some of this cast clearly have bright futures in front of them with a little more training and perhaps more suitable content. At this time of so many talented young performers, it’s a really competitive and difficult thing to get right and I think the production team missed the mark here.