THE ELIXIR OF LOVE at The King's Head Theatre, Islington
Matthew Kellett as Dulcamara: photo Bill Knight

If you want an evening of fun and merriment, look no further. Islington's King's Head Theatre in conjunction with Opera'r Ddraig are offering a veritable treat. Chris Harris and David Eaton's new English version of Donizetti's The Elixir of Love or L'Elisir d'Amore, directed by Hannah Noone, is playing in the delightful intimate theatre space and from start to finish it is an absolute hoot.

Each of the five-strong cast performs with energy, wit and gusto. Voices soar, eyes roll and jokes abound. It is a performance of wit which will have you laughing out loud. Seated on three sides of the staging, the audience is immersed and involved. The pace never slackens and by the time the production finished, my face ached with laughter.

Moving the setting from the 18th century Basque region of Spain to 1982 Barry Island in Wales (home to Gavin and Stacey) life moves at a gentle pace, relatively unscathed by the Falklands conflict. That is until now! Things are about to change.

The beautiful Adina (Caroline Taylor), love interest of the hesitant, lovesick and tongue-tied Nicky (David Powton) is tidying the gingham covered tables in her bistro/cafe whilst he sits forlornly, sipping his nth cup of coffee just to remain in sight of her. How might he win her heart? Enter the dastardly, crooked Dulcamara (Matthew Kellett) and his case full of tonics and 'scientifically tested' potions. Yes, with the aid of his 'elixir of love' spray (actually consisting of animal urine - but enough of that), the gullible Nicky will gain the 'swagger of Jagger' and win Adina's love. But of course, all goes awry and chaos ensues. Returning from his tour of duty is past love to Adina, Captain Brandon (Theo Perry), resplendent in his uniform to claim the hand of Adina before he has to return to the Falklands.

Who will be the victor? Who will win the race? Ah,but that would be telling. No spoilers here, I'm afraid.

The talent of the cast is boundless. Their voices soar and, accompanied on his piano by Musical Director David Eaton, are clear and audible. If like me you are not well versed in opera, dispel your fears. This is totally accessible and there were no moments of confusion with what was being sung

The cast listing varies at each performance. On the night of this review I must offer sincere congratulations for their glorious performance to Caroline Taylor, David Powton, Matthew Kellett, Theo Perry and Shana Moron-Caravel. They won our hearts, without any potions from the unscrupulous Dulcamara..

I urge you, no, implore you to go and see it. You will not be disappointed and are sure to leave the theatre tra la la-ing with the best of them. Playing for a short period only, this two Act opera is not to be missed.

The Elixir of Love: Wednesday 25 September - Saturday 26 October 2019 at the King's Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington N1 1QN

Performances  Mon-Sat 7 pm, Sat 3 pm.
Running Time 90 minutes with a short interval
Ticket Prices Fri/Sat evening: premium £35, weekday premium £28.50
Standard tickets £24.50 with concessions available.
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Twitter: @KingsHeadThtr  @operarDdraig#ElixirOfLoveKHT
Telephone: 0207 226 8561