EIF, Edinburgh International Festival, Love in a Library, Scottish Poetry Library
A simple love story between a librarian and a young English teacher is the excuse for a twenty minute jukebox opera, inflicted on unsuspecting Edinburgh library goers all this week. The show will be performed in various Edinburgh City Libraries and the Scottish Poetry Library until Saturday the 16th. The exact times and locations will be advertised on Twitter and Facebook a half-day before each performance.
At the first performance on the 11th, the spontaneousness of the piece was rather dulled by the familiar faces of reviewers and EIF staff in the crowd, but there was still a wonderfully transgressive feeling about the whole show. One lady very clearly had no idea what was going to happen at all - I think she enjoyed the surprise though.
Pieced together from love songs by Gershwin, Schumann, Schubert, Fauré and others, the show is essentially an impromptu classical music version of Mama Mia. The two singers, soprano Emma Morwood and lyric tenor Chris Elliott, follow each other amongst the shelves taking it in turns to sing as they gather the courage to talk to each other, find a shared interest in poetry, and eventually leave the library hand in hand.
Both singers were lovely to listen to. In particular, Emma Morwood's performance of "Le Secret" by Fauré was delicately beautiful. Elliott's Hugh-Grant-style buffoonery at the beginning of the opera was also a highlight.
The lack of writer or director credits in the programme or press notes explains why the story of the opera is boring, and why the staging is poor. But the focus is on the music and on the unexpectedness of the performance, and in these areas the show is on firm ground.
Similarly, no credit is given to whoever dreamt up the idea for the project. It's not unfair to say that the high concept is the real star of the show, so I think that's a shame.
If you're available during the day this week, I can only recommend going and being a part of this fun, effective and interesting project.
Photo Credit: James T Harding.
James T Harding is a Newsdesk Editor for Broadway World based in Edinburgh, UK.|
He is a theatre and culture reviewer for the Edinburgh Evening News and was Editor in Chief of Broadway Baby in 2010-12.
He has a degree in Music from Oxford University.