Bed And Sofa
Taking its inspiration from a 1920’s Russian silent movie seen back in college days, this short musical by Americans Laurence Klavan and Polly Pen spoofs conventional opera with a repetitive, often mundane libretto and an equally limited score.
But that doesn’t stop this perky European premiere of a 1996 off-Broadway success from being surprisingly enjoyable with its tongue in cheek account of a ménage à trois which was never meant to be.
David Woodhead’s charmingly clever set – a tiny split abode with 4-piece orchestra seated above – conjures the compact apartment shared by Ludmilla and her construction supervisor husband Kolya during the Moscow housing crisis of 1926.
Their happy existence is thrown into disarray when his old army comrade Volodya can’t find anywhere else to live and moves in with them – initially sleeping on the sofa, but soon replacing Kolya in the bed.
And that’s just the start of things.
Penelope Keith supplies an ironically plummy voiceover of Marxist quotes to mark each new scene (all played out with the stylised jerkiness of early movies) as their relationships go through various computations.
Delightfully sung (by Kaisa Hammarlund’s neat, smiling Ludmilla scrubbing her house clean, Alastair Parker’s burly Kolya and Alastair Brookshaw’s deceptively sensitive-faced Volodya), Luke Sheppard’s quirky production knows its limitations and – unlike the couple’s house guest – never outstays its welcome.
Finborough, Finborough Road, SW10 9ED
Tube: Earl’s Court
0844 847 1652
Until 23rd of April
– Louise Kingsley