The Winterreise Project
, UnstuckOpera's first venture after its radical re-jig of
Dido and Aeneas
, is compelling cabaret, blasting the Trumpian and other follies of our age between slices of Schubert lieder.
Frances Moore - writer, director and performer, white-faced and cross-dressed - effortlessly sustains 50 minutes of song and spoken commentary. She deals out witty and sometimes racy stand-up, describing the show as a two-fingered salute to patriarchy.
Ripping into the operatic establishment, we're told La Boheme is all about uninsulated housing and preventable disease, and Auckland has kids whose tiny hands are frozen. As she progresses, extending political targets with disarming clarity, some may wish the songs were not in mystifying German.
With the deft Juan Kim on keyboard, music director Alex Taylor and two string players offer support, at one point standing in for the original wind instruments when Moore dashes off prickly Schoenberg behind a Hillary Clinton mask.
They also play Bartok and Webern and the lush harmonies Max Richter wraps around a Dinah Washington ballad, although Moore doesn't quite nail the original's stark tragedy.
A marvellous moment when Taylor infiltrates a song from the musical Cabaret into a Schubert lieder suggests perhaps we could have more of such musical meddling.
With a modest ticket price, and a two-week season, The Winterreise Project is not to be missed.
What: The Winterreise Project
Where and when: Basement Theatre; until Saturday, October 28
Reviewer: William Dart