The Angel and The Red Priest (Festival page)
Oddbodies Theatre @ ACA (Main Theatre)
7:00pm, Wed 27 Feb 2008
I’ll be honest, here – I dozed off more than once during the first half of this production. I maintain that it’s not entirely my fault, given the sleepy lighting and lulling music used in the performance. And, let’s face it, what’s on offer early on – at least, what I saw – was pretty missable.
We’re observing Vivaldi on the cusp of his rise in greatness. In search of a soprano, he finds instead a confidante, a muse, in a disfigured cleaning girl – his Angel. Despite his training as a priest, they fall in love – only for Vivaldi’s ambition and opportunity to tear them apart.
The angular set is really attractive, and a quintet of musicians – harpsichord, oboe, cello, violin, viola – line one “side”. Musical and theatrical performances are fine – nothing to complain about, anyway – but, as a whole, it’s all rather pedestrian and lifeless…
…until the last five minutes. Vivaldi indicates to his Angel that he’s leaving Venice; she is heartbroken. Those moments between them are beautifully weighted, full of import – and the finale is, likewise, a thoroughly enjoyable, emotive piece of work, wonderfully staged. Such a shame, then, that the earlier part of the show – when it managed to keep my eyes open – was so unemotional.