The Magic Flute or the stories they tell ★★★ Above The Stag Theatre | June 30 - July 4, 2021


The Magic Flute or the stories they tell is an extremely unusual mixture of dialogue, singing and even audience participation. This piece is part of a season, curated by Matthew Baldwin, which challenged a collective of theatre makers to create and develop pieces over just a two week period. Edwina Strobl with Mark Daniels and their highly talented performers, Mais Robinson and Freddie Love, take us on a very strange journey which loosely uses themes from Mozart and Schikaneder's weird and wonderful opera. It takes as its premise that The Magic Flute – particularly with reference to Tamino and Pamina, as well as the use of the benign male (Sarastro) and evil female (Queen of the Night) – is a work deeply imbued with binary issues. Robinson and Love use their non-binary personae to create an enchanting pair of friends: Min and Patty. Min is nervous about playing the flute whilst Patty flits in and out, often wearing a Papageno-esque parrot headdress. Additionally, Min has a very complex relationship with her mother (like Pamina and Queen of the Night). Confused? We certainly were. The Q & A session after the play clarified many elements of what we had seen but should this be necessary? The work feels somewhat unfinished but, given the short gestation period, this hardly surprises. Both Robinson and Love work extremely hard and bring us truly believable characters who certainly gain our sympathy. Love also displays a fine singing voice. Despite the lack of thematic and developmental clarity, there are definitely many magical moments.

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Oli Sones.

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