Creators: Sleepwalk Collective
Performers: Iara Solano Arana and Nhung Dang
Lighting and music: Sammy Metcalfe
It would be fair to say the what I know about opera and Kourtney Kardashian could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Lucky for me Kourtney Kardashian has very little to do with the socialite, businesswomen, and model (thanks Wikipedia), it is, however, a deconstruction of the medium that is opera.
Kourtney Kardashian is the final part of Sleepwalk Collective’s accidental trilogy named after the Kardashian sisters. The performance opens with a series of directions projected onto a screen at the back of the stage, pointing out our conductor for the evening, who despite having no musicians to conduct will oversee the music. The screen acts as our guide through the performance with a host of useful operatic terms such as Canzonetta and Cabaletta, which are played out at a key moment in the piece.
Performer Iara Solano Arana arrives on stage dressed in an all gold foil outfit to deliver the plays opening monologue, later she is joined by Nhung Dang, dressed in an identical outfit: The pair retell a memory from 1992, when they were eight years old, their parents put on a performance of the Marriage of Figaro. This retelling is crosscut with a scathing social commentary about greed, gluttony, ignorance and excess, as we are more focused on celebrity, wealth and possessions, whilst the world around us crumbles due to climate change and our alarming reliance on technology.
The performance closes with a stark warning that unlike the Marriage of Figaro that has a happy ending, if we continue on our chosen path, we won’t be so lucky.
This is a unique, bold production that won’t be for everyone, however, there is a lot to be admired about it. Arana and Dang are outstanding: both turn in a deadpan, darkly comedic, almost menacing performance. They are both somewhat robotic, not too dissimilar to that of a Sean Young’s Replicant, Rachael from the Blade Runner films. This works perfectly well with Sammy Metcalfe’s unnerving futurist sound scope, that throughout the performance is quite unsettling. The performances and music marry together perfectly to create the dystopian world at the heart of the production.
We are told from the outset that will be no live singing on stage tonight: instead, the operatic performances by Lucy Metcalfe and Sammy Metcalfe are beamed in through speakers hung around the necks of our two performers: this again works perfectly well with the production’s narrative and message.
The narrative structure does take a while to get used to and can be quite jarring at first but once you get your head round it the show becomes more accessible. This is a fun, brave work that should be commended for trying something different, whilst it won’t be to everyone’s taste it does offer up something fresh and unique, and certainly encourages discussion, which can only be a good thing.
Reviewed on 9 March 2019 | Image: Contributed