Philip Venables

Outstanding reviews for the revival of 4.48 Psychosis

1 June 2018 - news

The recent performances of the Royal Opera production of 4.48 Psychosis have come to an end. We didn’t expect much press for a revival, of course, but the reviews there have been have been outstanding. The performances took place at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith in April and May 2018. Here are some links to some of the reviews:

“…the play’s surprisingly prominent wit and humour come out extremely well in a musical setting – given the right treatment of course, and Venables, amazingly for his first opera, gets everything just right. The vocal and instrumental ensemble writing, brilliantly realized under Richard Baker’s musical direction, employs an incredibly wide range of styles – from Elizabethan laments to electronically enhanced howls and shrieks – to construct a series of intersecting fragmentary numbers.” — Times Literary Supplement

“this intense, 90-minute opera, for six women, a dozen instrumentalists and pre-recorded material, was yet more spiky, cogent, witty and elegiac in its first revival”The Guardian / Fiona Maddocks

“…the stage becomes the playground for an astonishingly protean score that piles surprise on invention. Highlights: a sequence of whip-cracks like something snapping in the mind; spells of white noise that suggest mental shutdown; a long, folkish melody of deceptive beauty that’s per-and sub-verted by high-lying arcs of dead string sound. This is Artaudian opera, from its aching passages of interlaced vocal harmonies to its blatant parody of church music. Venables displays an amazing technicolor palette of genuine individuality, nowhere more than in the striking confluence of amplified and natural voices, and he employs his colours unerringly to enhance Kane’s drama.” — Whats On Stage

“Venables has been careful to create a symbiotic balance between the music and the words of Kane’s canvas – so, the percussionists tap out their notes like Morse code, but there is a rhythm and tempo to the music that frames the meaning of the text. Every part of Kane’s vast monologue is composed for – so even full-stops and question-marks are given a musical equivalent, such as a buzzer or a bell. There are hammers and saws which articulate the inner voices of a psychotic mind in its bleakest moments of despair.” — Opera Today

Against the odds, Venables’s opera makes Kane’s rage and despair musically eloquent and emotionally fulfilling. It’s quite a package.” — The Times

(photo: Stephen Cummiskey)

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