Director: Matthew Richardson
Writer: Stuart Macrae
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Based on the tale The Bottle Imp by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Devil Inside is a Faustian folk story that takes place, jarringly, in the 21st Century.
The Music Theatre Wales’ production is a modern day opera, comprised of seven scenes, that combines the mythical, the allegorical and the contemporary.
Following the story of Richard and James, travelling friends who stumble across an old man in a mansion one dark night, who promises them an enchanted bottle – home of a wicked imp – that will grant any wish they desire in return for their soul, The Devil Inside tells a tale of temptation, greed and dread, as the friends wrestle with their desires for wealth, and their fear of the devil.
By using a traditional, folk style medium to issue a modern day warning, the opera clashes and jars – helped by the punctuating and intense instrumental – to create a performance that, although unsettling, fascinates and intrigues.
The cast, comprising of only four, is talented and at times, mesmerising. As James, Ben McAteer portrays a modern day tortured soul, inflicting his classical voice to reflect his mixed emotions. Richard (Nicholas Sharratt) too, is talented, as his strong vocal performance is utilised to reflect a decline into madness. As Catherine, Rachel Kelly gives a performance to match her male co-stars – she is vocally versatile and her character is arguably the most complex and interesting.
The staging is clever, making use of light and shadow to ever play on the dichotomy of good and evil and create different scenes and environments, invoking a minimalist style that leaves the real work to the singers, and to the audience’s imagination.
An interesting, if not completely convincing, juxtaposition of tradition and contemporary, The Devil Inside is a good production, worth catching if you get the chance.
Touring until 18 April 2016 | Image: Bill Cooper