Igor Toronyi-Lalic

Powder Her Face: Amanda Roocroft would never give a random bell-boy a blowjob

Before we talk fellatio, let me get the boring, snide observations out of the way. It’s great to see the ENO experimenting with space etc – exploring ‘new’ venues, going outside their comfort zone blah, blah, blah – but they really need to do better than this.

Ambika P3 is a fantastic industrial box in the middle of Marylebone (where they made the concrete to build the Westway). It’s not as undiscovered as the ENO like to think it is (it’s been around for nearly a decade) but still, good on them for finally realising it’s here.

For them to then ignore the glories that the space has to offer in its unadulterated state and plonk a theatre in it (as they did last night for their new production of Powder Her Face) is not just spatially illiterate but also madly wasteful. To compound this they programmed an opera that has no interest whatsoever in being taken on an industrial jaunt. All of which made the night feel more than a little farcical.

That said, what they did with Thomas Ades’s opera within this temporary auditorium wasn’t bad. But it also wasn’t half as good as what the Linbury Studio Theatre did with the piece a few years back.

Amanda Roocroft played the Duchess a little too seriously for me to believe she’d actually give a random bell-boy a blowie. Here she is ordering her meat, wink wink, nudge nudge:

Amanda Roocroft. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Amanda Roocroft. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The brilliant Alan Ewing, playing several different depraved beings, lurked about with slimy intent, reminiscent of Rik Mayall’s sweaty turn in Bottom:

Alan Ewing. Photo: Richard-Hubert-Smith

Alan Ewing. Photo: Richard-Hubert-Smith

Completing the cast were the excellent Alexander Sprague and Claire Eggington, playing various prurient, jealous, chippy everyman characters:

Alexander Sprague and Claire Eggington. Photo: Richard Hubert-Smith

Alexander Sprague and Claire Eggington.

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