La Traviata

1 September 2015 | 12:56 pm | Hannah Story

"La Traviata is everything Brandis never wanted your taxpayer dollars to be spent on."

La Traviata deftly skewers the arts and culture world. It takes a once subversive opera and makes it subversive again, pulling it back from the realm of older, largely male, upper-class theatergoers into new light, form and story. This production turns Verdi's work into something that questions what exactly we value in art, right now, and also brings colour and fun to something that has lost its appeal for younger audiences.

Opening with three ad execs trying to sell the audience "opera in jeans", Sisters Grimm's La Traviata descends into playful satire, on the borderlands of performance art and theatre, of opera and comedy. There is no real sense of catharsis or identification with characters, however loosely such a word can be applied, although Ash Flanders shows himself to be one of the finest theatre writer-actors working in Australia. Co-creator Declan Greene too is brimming with ideas that burst from the seams of this creation, begging to be fleshed out. That's where this production falls down, however. There's so much happening and most sections could be teased out further.

The second act is a hilarious wish-wash of mimed opera from Michael Lewis and Emma Maye Gibson, Lewis an opera veteran, Gibson a mesmerising force whose cabaret background lends itself to an experimental work such as this. It's the set that pulls it all together and allows the audience interaction that could seem shallow but instead feels convivial.

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La Traviata is everything Brandis never wanted your taxpayer dollars to be spent on.