at Bridlington Spa
Review by Alexa Copeland
MOBILITY scooters whizzing round the Royal Hall, small children inside shopping trolleys and a rather moving song about longshore drift were just some of the visual and aural delights of Beached, the opera.
It opened at the Spa on Saturday afternoon and as soon as the story began unfolding, I doubt anybody in the audience was thinking of the national storm it had created just the week before when it had been dramatically cancelled over a row about the word ‘queer’.
What a crying shame it would have been if the show hadn’t gone ahead because it was a real treat and a production that all involved should rightly be very proud of.
In essence, the story is a simple one; a father taking his two children to Bridlington beach for a holiday, only for his tranquil idyll to be repeatedly interrupted by various colourful characters of the town.
As the drama unfolds, the opera really finds its feet with some fantastic comedic performances, from the day-tripping pensioners to the teenage mums smoking cigarettes while pushing their children around in shopping trolleys.
The real beauty of the show is that whilst the singing, dancing and comedy elements leave you feeling uplifted, there are darker themes interwoven throughout, such as job loss, divorce, isolation and intolerance.
These issues are not lost on the audience, but the majority of the opera is such entertaining fun that there is never the feeling of it getting bogged down by such weighty musings.
At times the stage was completely full, with children, pensioners, teenage ‘yobs’ and everyone in between joining together for a good sing-a-long and only a real cynic could fail to be entertained by such a spectacle.
From the children of Bay Primary School, to the community choir, the professionals and the Mencap Music and Movement group, Beached really is a community celebration encompassing many walks of life - and the fact that one of the characters is a gay professor certainly seemed a minor detail in the context of the overall production.
Indeed, the contested lines were lost on me as not all of Professor Sewerby’s verses were clearly audible and I found myself wondering what all the fuss had been about in the first place.
Opera North have achieved wonderful things in bringing such a special show to Bridlington - it is not often one gets to enjoy a show with cast ages ranging from two to 82 – and I’m sure it has been a massively memorable experience for all involved.
The only shame were the many empty seats downstairs which made me doubt that any of those who posted their fury about the gay issue on websites across the land actually bothered to come and see what they were talking about with such ferocity.
Because if they had come to see it, there surely would have been no complaints.