Knock about Baroque fun at Warwick concert

Armonico Consort: Baroque Around the Block, Bridge House Theatre, Warwick, September 27.

COINCIDING with the conference season – Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham - Armonico Consort persuaded scriptwriter Stewart Collins to score what can best be described as pantomime opera, substituting the miming of Pan and Syrinx with jokes closely resembling those attempted by leading politicians in the last couple of years.

Do you remember Sarah Teather at last year’s conference? Les Dawson would have given Shaun Prendergast the thumbs-up as he facilitated the cabbie role, dragging his audience in his wake. Indeed, Dawson would most surely wish to have adopted the one about Handel on his death bed rubbing out his music ‘as he was decomposing’.

Baroque Around the Block played to a full house introducing many well-known and some lesser-known works by Monteverdi, Bach, Gesualdo, Purcell, Handel and Vivaldi – quite a mix; very well received and a new first for the consort to add to last year’s success Too Hot to Handel. It’s a bit more ‘knock about’ fun, bringing together a super team, notably two vivacious sopranos – Eloise Irving and Claire Buckley - who both sang well and danced too.

A Wotan-like Nicholas Khan plays the several composers - some darker than others - and counter-tenor Joseph Bolger gets close to the girls in some gorgeous duets. Gillian Malster’s strikingly colourful costumes, Victoria Spearing’s sets and music by a baroque septet with choir allow cabbie Shaun to waltz through an evening of decadent music hall.

Even Les Dawson would have supported a case for mime drama in place of some of the gloriously un-PC jokes – ‘no one would accuse the Germans of being pedantic’ - a case in point.

Clive Peacock