Review of La Traviata

LA TRAVIATA at the KINGS HEAD THEATRE, LONDON N1

If you hate opera, go NOW to the King’s Head Theatre in Islington (London N1) and see La Traviata. It will change your mind. If you are a radical feminist, don’t miss the most realistic portrayal of a strip joint you are ever likely to see on stage. If (like me) you are on the autistic spectrum, and like things to be snappy, this is the production for you!

Opera can be a yawn. It’s long, expensive, and if you’re bored rigid by it, you’ve spent a lot of money and wasted a lot of time.

This Traviata runs for 2 hours including interval – plenty of time to enjoy the evening afterwards. With a cast of 4, it cuts out all the jolly (boring) carousing crowd scenes we wish Disney had never imitated. You get the guts of the story in close proximity with a stunning vocal star, luscious Verdi music and feel an intensity which left my friends and me gasping at the end. All for £20 AND you have supported a worthy charity AND can if you wish leave feeling superior to all the characters.

The script ‘(libretto’, darling!) has been brilliantly updated by some of the cast to centre a poledancer. Although the rules say ‘don’t touch’, they are there to be broken. She is expected to have physical contact, but punished if it goes wrong. Victim-blaming is big in the sex trade as we know.

"The clubs maintain a veneer of no touching, but touching is more standard than not… The fact is that if you break the rules, you make more money. If one dancer starts breaking the rules then the pressure is on others to do the same. Otherwise a bloke would think, Well, that dancer charged me £20 and stayed three feet away, but that one charged me just the same and she put her breasts in my mouth and sat on my crotch. Once you've been there a while, you learn that certain things are profitable, and no contact is the first rule you learn to break.” - Sex trade survivor quoted in The Guardian (Bell, 2008).

A sleazy hypocritical politician adds more realism. Remember Keith (‘shall I break him, will you bring the drugs?’) Vaz MP who had to stand down from chairing the Commons Committee on Prostitution when caught out. But remains an MP.

It all ends badly of course, but not of consumption as in the original 1850s version. Get your ticket now to find out how. On its way to Oxford, Wales and Bristol.

Janice Williams