altIn a colourful production featuring a cast of dozens, the age of multimedia together with the Opera de Lyon adapt themselves to Gershwin’s classic folk opera portraying the lives of the inhabitants of Catfish Row.

Although based on the real-life slums of Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s, Opera de Lyon modernise the story with street dancing, updated costumes , and, predominantly by, the gargantuan techni-colour screen on the wall. The projections are remarkable sights of various scenes including both calm and violent seas, low country marshland and pre-recorded scenes not otherwise acted out onstage, which tell other parts of the story.

Despite the dancing in the aisles and the interesting ways in which the videos play different roles in the production, the story progresses slowly, and uncomfortably so in the unbearably warm theatre. Ice cream and water sales must have soared as high as the temperature. 

We see the good and the evil in Bess, we dislike Crown quite a bit and Porgy makes us a little sad, however does not seem to generate any genuine emotion (we ought to be furiously angry with Crown and empathise inconsolably with Porgy), and I suspect the star itself, the multimedia extravaganza, causes this distraction. As a native of South Carolina, I also think that the opera singers should have stuck to the songs rather than attempting completely unbelievable accents – the Gullah Charleston accent is incredibly distinct, and should only be mimicked with very careful consideration.

Some highlights include a talented cast, both musically and physically, and impressive arrangements of ancient songs that never really get old like Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So. It is summertime too, out of and inside the theatre, so instead of staying seated when the three hours and fifteen minutes finish to ponder the sentimentality Gershwin intended, I rush away, desperate for another glass of water. 

Festival Theatre, 14, 16-17 Aug, 7.15pm

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