Dazzled by "Gloriana"

Have you ever been assaulted by the stage lighting of a production? In the sixty-plus years since I saw my first play and opera (Carmen at the Cincinnati Zoo!), this is the first time I have felt physically threatened by a lighting designer, Mimi Jordan Sherin, who has lit Richard Jones's otherwise imaginative, rewarding revival of Benjamin Britten's Gloriana, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

            The problems are two-fold: a bank of extraordinarily bright lights lining the top back of the stage, which appeared to be on switched on for great stretches of time; and tubes of intense coloured strip lighting over Ultz's generally amusing sets. My wife and I felt mugged by the headache-making intensity of the lights shining in our eyes, and murmurings from those seated either side and in front and behind us indicated that we were not alone in our suffering - and even made to feel a bit sick by the duration and intensity of the aggressive lighting. Fortunately for me, I had carelessly left a pair of sunglasses in a jacket pocket, so was able to endure the punishment of the first half without having to get up and leave the auditorium.

            Others were not so lucky. At the interval I saw dozens and dozens of people leaving the front doors, and a quick check showed that very few of them were standing on the Bow Street pavement sneaking a quick fag. Some of these must have been ticket-holders fleeing, not to save their lives, but their sight.

            Without going into the other merits or demerits of the production, which I'll save for my review, I felt there was something sadistic, and wrong,  about punishing an innocent audience in this way by half-blinding them. Surely this sort of really brutal, literally in-yer-face lighting ought at least to carry a health warning? In Britain we are used to seeing notices that caution audiences that "strobe lights are used in this production." What about this even more dangerous lighting?


June 25, 2013 2:40 PM | | Comments (0)

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This page contains a single entry by Plain English published on June 25, 2013 2:40 PM.

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