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Grindr: The Opera review at Above the Stag, London – ‘an amusing parody’

Robby Khela, Tom Blackmore and Christian Lunn in Grindr: The Opera at Above the Stag, London: Photo: PBG
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Launched in 2009, Grindr is the popular geo-social dating app geared specifically to the gay community that paved the way for things like Tinder.  In this unauthorised parody Grindr: The Opera, composer Erik Ransom explores the culture of easy, anonymous sexual hook-ups in the digital age.

Devon, a shy but assertive doctor, played with straight-faced  conviction by David Malcolm searches for love and finds an unexpected match in Matthew Grove’s rakish Tom. Meanwhile an older, closeted businessman seeks far less salubrious relations with very young men. Ransom ties up this unlikely quartet with a tragicomic denouement and a score that gleefully apes the tropes of opera.

Further gravitas is provided by introducing Grindr as a presence on stage: a demonic demi-god, awoken from a Leviathan slumber to entice men. Swathed in black, Christian Lunn embodies the essence of Grindr, maniacal and luring gullible gay men into chaos.

Although the plot is slight,  director Andrew Beckett pitches the tone at just the right level of parody to make it work. It helps that musical director Aaron Clingham has created some handsome orchestrations to complement the bombastic score and David Shields’ set design fuses an old-school quality with electro kitsch.

The first musical at Above the Stag’s new home, what Grindr: The Opera lacks in complexity it more than makes up for in humour.

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Verdict
Strong production values and a committed cast shore up this thin but amusing operatic parody
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