Thrilling nights: Boys of Paradise Boys of Paradise, WorkshOPERA, Egg London, October 2016. Photo by Claire Shovelton.

Thrilling nights: Boys of Paradise

Jenna Simeonov

Remember when we wrote an article called, “Don’t miss: Boys of Paradise? We really meant it.

The immersive opera by Vahan Salorian and Dominic Kimberlin, where London’s Egg Nightclub becomes the fictional gay club Paradaezia, is a fantastically real telling of what has become an iconic story of the last several decades; Twink, with his friends Cub and Fag Hag, rides the rollercoaster of everything new, addictive, flattering, sexy, and dangerous, all at arm’s length for the audience.

The contemporary story of highs and lows is smartly encased in the very old myth of the Phoenix, where Twink embodies the bird who is reborn out of his own ashes. Boys of Paradise could have been an opportunity for camp, shock value, and lame attempts at drug and sex imagery; yet there was something ironically polished about this dirty, uncomfortable story that allows the audience to sympathise, judge, and experience catharsis all at once.

We lined up outside the club, checked our coats, bought an overpriced drink, and sampled the unmarked “drug” offerings of friendly strangers; the deafening club music transitioned smoothly into the strains of the live orchestra, led by music director James Garner (who also deserves a nod for his on-point casting of these great singers). The ensemble singers were everywhere, blending in with the listeners, and with swift, sultry touches (the kind that only the honest admit to enjoying), they spent the night guiding the audience’s eyes and ears towards the action.

Boys of Paradise, WorkshOPERA, Egg London October 2016. Photo by Claire Shovelton.

There was thrilling, sexy singing from Sam Carl (Crow), Jack Holton (Vulture), and Iestyn Morris (Peregrine), three villain-types who maintain redeemable qualities only because Twink - sung heartbreakingly by Guy Elliott - is so na├»ve (and later, cocky). The birds prey on Twink, seduce him, and discard him after use. Carlos Gomez was a kind soul as Cub, and Emily Kyte sang a touching “Fag Hag aria,” a moment that hit quite close to home. Something about water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.

Rarely have we wanted an opera to continue longer than it did. Rarely has immersive, integrative theatre been so seamless, organized, and cohesive than it was with Anna Pool’s direction of Boys of Paradise. The music sounded like it needed to, the singers were intelligible and believable, and the story was true.

If you’re in the London area, make time this week to catch a performance. The shows happen twice a night, at 7:30pm and 9:30pm, until October 21st. The singing is great, and the experience is fun. Should it be fun? You can tell us after you’ve seen it.

For more details about Boys of Paradise, and to purchase tickets, click here.

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