The Elixir of Love @ King’s Head Theatre

A collaboration between the King’s Head Theatre and Welsh company Opera D’draig, The Elixir of Love is an upbeat and extremely entertaining English version of Donizetti’s comic opera L’elisir d’amore. Writers Chris Harris and David Eaton transport the story from 1970s Northern Spain to 80s Barry Island, complete with era-appropriate bright colours, backcombed hair, and a Walkman – terrific work from designer Amanda Mascarenhas.  

Alys Roberts, Themba Mvula, Caroline Taylor (as Gina) – Photo: Bill Knight

Nicky (David Powton) is hopelessly in love with Adina (Alys Roberts) and spends his days at her cafe, staring at her from a distance. When her school crush Brandon (Themba Mvula) unexpectedly returns to the seaside town, Nicky is distraught. By chance, “Doctor” Dulcamara (Matthew Kellett) pops by the cafe, offering an elixir to solve Nicky’s problems, kick-starting a series of amusing events.

Roberts is exceptional as Adina, while the lovable Powton has the whole audience rooting for him. The stand out for me is Kellett whose completely over the top caricature Dulcamara is a sight to behold. From his sleazy salesman antics to his “I Love Barry” t-shirt, it’s non-stop laughs every time he appears on stage. 

Matthew Kellett, Alys Roberts – Photo: Bill Knight

The use of English of course makes it easy to follow and understand, but it’s also the terrific performances that make it a charming and delightful hour and a half. The Elixir of Love is a superb opera to see if you’re one of those people, like me, who thinks opera isn’t for them, because it will completely change your mind. 

The Elixir of Love is at the King’s Head Theatre until 26th October.

Hamilton (Lewis) @ King’s Head Theatre

With everyone being obsessed with Lin Manuel Miranda’s extremely successful Hamilton: An American Musical, parodies were inevitable. When it was announced that Hamilton would be appearing in the West End, someone on Twitter was perplexed as to why a musical about Lewis Hamilton was being made. Taking this idea and running with it, Fiona English and David Eaton have created a new musical based on the Formula 1 driver. Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe, Hamilton (Lewis) is an awfully amazing hour of ridiculous songs, funny gags and some stunning vocals.

Hamilton (Lewis) (c) _otherrichard (7).jpg

Photo: The Other Richard

Born and raised in Stevenage, Lewis Hamilton (Letitia Hector) has always dreamed of driving fast cars. With McLaren boss Ron Dennis (Jamie Barwood) mentoring him, he gets the title of F1 champion. But with rival Fernando Alonso’s (Louis Mackrodt) backing from sponsors, will Hamilton be able to maintain his place at the top? And when Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (Liberty Buckland) takes a fancy to him, Hamilton sees his opportunity to be the man he has always wanted to be, and rise up.

As you would expect from a successful musical parody, it’s completely over the top, with playful lyrics, a wink to the audience, and a cast who look like they’re genuinely having a great time on stage. Breaking the fourth wall throughout heightens the shared experience of this show, and it’s obvious the audience loves being in on the joke. There is a chuckle whenever a Hamilton song reference is made, which, as expected, is constantly.

Hamilton (Lewis) (c) _otherrichard (3).jpg

Photo: The Other Richard

Hector’s Hamilton is strong and likable, with great comic timing and charisma. It’s during her duets with Buckland that both performers thrive, their voices blending perfectly together, showcasing Eaton’s satisfying music and lyrics. Watch out for Buckland’s number with the rest of The Pussycat Dolls – performed hilariously by Barwood and Mackrodt –  you will not be able to look away.

If you are a die-hard fan of Lewis Hamilton you will likely find the show offensive, but that’s ok because you’re not really the target audience. If you are a fan of Hamilton, whether or not you have seen it or just obsessively listen to the soundtrack, you will love this show. It’s silly, fun, hammy, and over within the hour – what’s not to like?

Hamilton (Lewis) is at the King’s Head Theatre until 22nd September.