Wednesday, 23 July 2008

HOT: Monkey: Journey to the West, Royal Opera House

It's great to know that Damon Albarn isn't just a poncy private schoolboy pretending to be a rockstar. Together with James Hewlett, his Gorillaz collaborator and the Chinese director Chen Shi-Zheng, he has created a rocking, colourful and energetically vibrant modern opera performed in the grand ornate Royal Opera House. The production is based on the ancient Chinese story of the Monkey King and his journey to the west (India) with his troupe: Tripitaka, Pigsy, Sandy and the Dragon Prince. Tim, being a Monkey Magic fan from childhood, was able to follow the story much better than me, but the wonderful combination of jaw-dropping Chinese acrobatics, funky video interludes and creative sets (my favourite being the giant floating Buddha hand) made it a very enjoyable production. I would love to see it again, if only to see the quarter of the stage that was obscured from our stall circle seats.

Update 5 August 2008: Albarn and Hewlett have brought Monkey and his friends together for the BBC's title sequence for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I really love it - it's unusual, witty and fun!

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