Sunday, 17 August 2014
Theatre review: The Immortal Hour
Eochaidh2 (Jeff Smyth) is an Irish king who's gone into the forest in search of the fountain of knowledge and an immortal bride. The trickster god Dalua (Stiofàn O'Doherty) provides him with the latter, by wiping the memory of the fairy Etain (Michelle Cornelius) and having her fall in love with Eochaidh.
They return to rule his kingdom, but it's only a matter of time before the spell on Etain is lifted and she remembers the world she really belongs in. A detailed synopsis has been added as an insert to the programme, as if the producers realised rather late in the day that the show was too incomprehensibly bonkers for anyone to actually follow the story. Fortunately, it's the rather endearing kind of bonkers.
The story may be of mystical heartbreak but Benji Sperring's production keeps things light and brisk, Bethany Wells' design using gauze-covered flats to create the mystical wood, Abigail Gargas' hair and makeup turning the fairies into goths. The movement stylings in the "fountain of knowledge" sequence alone are an indication that the production isn't taking itself too seriously.
Boughton's music is enjoyable, and the show's well-sung by the young cast. This is The Immortal Hour's centenary production, and it's over 50 years since it was last produced in London. I can see that it might not be the sort of thing to fill an opera house any more, but in the intimate setting of the Finborough it's all rather good, weird fun.
The Immortal Hour by Rutland Boughton and Fiona Macleod is booking in repertory until the 26th of August at the Finborough Theatre.
Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes including interval.
1or the "unnecessarily bright and blinding light" if you're Katie Mitchell