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The Lighthouse


Peter Maxwell Davies’ violent, unsettling tale of three lighthouse keepers who disappear in mysterious circumstances is especially intense in the modestly-proportioned Hackney Showroom. Trapped in a confined space with a vigorous 12-piece orchestra and three male singers, the tension for the audience becomes almost unbearable.

The young Shadwell Ensemble, conducted by Finnegan Downie Dear, gives a raw, sometimes overwhelming account of a score ranging from brutal 20th-century modernism to pastiche music-hall tunes.

It’s not just the big brass and percussion effects that assault the senses – the strobe of the lighthouse beam and flashes of lightning batter the eyeballs and a queasy rocking effect is created by projecting the movement of water in a fish tank onto a screen. The set focuses on a central ring containing a kitchen table, ankle-deep in water, where the three keepers slosh around and wrestle with their inner demons.

Pauls Putnins plays the driven preacher Arthur, his magnificent bass full of blood and thunder; baritone Owain Browne is Blazes, whose gruesome song reveals he is both abused and an abuser. The most affecting of the three is boyish tenor Paul Curievci as Sandy – his cliched love song arouses tenderness in his two companions. They embrace in a rare moment of cameraderie before their crazy visions drive them towards their hellish fate.

Like  “the horror!” in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the audience is left with a feeling of dread, but no clear idea of who dunnit, or what was done. It doesn’t matter – Furness and Downie Dear have created a spine-chilling setting for this operatic shaggy dog story.

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Production Details
Production nameThe Lighthouse
VenueHackney Showroom
StartsNovember 3, 2017
EndsNovember 12, 2017
Running time1hr 30mins
ComposerPeter Maxwell Davies
DirectorJack Furness
ConductorFinnegan Downie Dear
Set designerAlex Berry
Lighting designerDaniel Spreadborough
CastOwain Browne, Paul Curievici, Pauls Putnins
Production managerRyan Watson
Stage managerZoe Elsmore
VerdictA nerve-shredding performance of Peter Maxwell Davies’ violent, haunting one-act opera
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Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

Amanda Holloway

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