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.