Tess of the D'Ubervilles - 29 September 1999

Well sang, well acted, well staged, well adapted just a shame about the music. Stephen Edwards' (composer) previous credits include an opera at 19 and then music for several television programmes and I'm afraid it showed. There are no memorable tunes, no definate start or end of songs and there is barely a distinction between each song as they seems to move up and down the scales and occasionaly an octave leap. The show was sung through which lessened the dramatic effect. Whereas other sung through shows seem to fit the genre with Tess it was as though they had written it as a play and then added music to lines which were neither structured for lyrics and at times sounded absurd. The music had no depth or heart in it and therefore the performers had no 'rich' music with which to express their emotions and they subsequently came over a emotionless and empty much of the time. The only time the music came into it's own was during the dance sequences.

The adaptation was good with the story starting at the dairy and Tess' younger life told in flashback. The only criticism being that this make the story a little slow to start and you were thrown in halfway through the story without really understanding Tess or Angel's characters. When Angel leaves Tess on their wedding night the build up of his character had not been enough for you to understand how much her actions as a child were against his principles.

The performers , Poppy Tierney (Tess), Jonahan Monks (Angel) and Alasdair Harvey (Alec D'Uberville) played their parts well and have excellent voices. The ensemble were stong and the trio of Gemma Sandy, Dianne Pilkington and Catherone Debenham-Taylor particluarly worked well together. It is a shame that the music did not offer more opportunity to show the full capabilities of the actors. Tess can't decide whether it is a musical, opera or ballet. The music is more suited to ballet, the singing style opera and yet it fits neither genre and musical fans will find it doesn't fit that genre either.

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