Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Theatre Review: 'Breaking the Rules' by Clare Norburn (Updated)

Hi everyone,

I had the pleasure of seeing Clare Norburn's fabulous production of 'Breaking the Rules' twice back in 2016, and I have finally managed to go again on the 17th April 2019 only this time it was being performed at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.


Gesualdo - Gerald Kyd

The Marian Consort
Jamie Akers/ Wezi Elliot - Lutest

Original Review from 2016

'Breaking the Rules' is a performance to celebrate Gesualdo's 450th birthday. The performance consists of a two hour monologue and the Marian Consort performing Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsies and Madrigils. The Tenebrae Responsies are sacred pieces of music composed by Gesualdo, and the Madrigils are the pieces of music were Gesualdo started to explore the use of harmonics and chromatics, and at that period in time it was just starting to come about.

'Breaking the Rules' is a one man concert drama that centres around the last day of Carlo Gesualdo. Gesualdo is alone in his chapel on his family estate. But, Gesualdo has been living inside his castle for some time.

  Two weeks previous he lost his only son and heir, and Gesualdo himself now stares death in the face, knowing that he faces purgatory for the multitude of sins that he has committed.
  During his final day, Gesualdo is haunted by the memories of his first wife, Maria; who he murdered 23 years ago because she was having an affair with local nobleman, Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria. The only thing that will finally free him of these visions from the past is if he 'turns on' the music, which he himself has composed.
  Also, in the chapel with Gesualdo are his consort of singers and they help to provide a soundtrack into Gesualdo's mind, as well as to act as a trigger to help Gesualdo remember his important life events.

Gerald is absolutely outstanding as Gesualdo, because he makes him likeable; even though he has a very dark and intense past. The monologue is performed with a lot of depth and contrast; and this is due to Gesualdo reflecting back on his past as well as highlighting some of his important life events.

The Marian Consort are fabulous as Gesualdo's personal consort. They perform a selection of Gesualdo's Tenebrae Responsies and Madrigils because Gesualdo has to 'turn on' the music while reflecting on his past life. The music which is performed by the Marian Consort is beautiful to listen too because of the harmonics and chromatics that is used throughout Gesualdo's compositions. Angels are definitely singing in the form of the Marian Consort.

'Breaking the Rules' is a fabulous production that provides the audience with a unique experience. If you want to see a show which puts in a dream-like state, and through a palette of colours, then this could be for you. 'Breaking the Rules' is a show that certainly takes you out of yourself and transports you to another place.

2019 Update

I had the pleasure of seeing 'Breaking the Rules' for a third time, and this time it was held at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester at 7.30pm.

This was staged differently to when I had watched this in the past; as they used elements of the hall to give it a more spacious feel rather than the condensed feeling which is due to the layout of the churches.
  The opening act started off with the Marian Consort singing from the dress circle; and at the start of the second act the Consort sang from the gallery. But they also walked around the stalls during the second act.

The way the monologue is performed has also changed from when I first saw the production. Gerald has given Gesualdo a 'new lease of life', as there's even more depth of colour, as well as a lot more to Gesualdo's character from what I remember previously. Also, both Luigi and Guilio now each have their own characteristics.
  The 'magic numbers' scene has also been staged differently, because this scene used to be Gerald sitting in a chair reading a book; whereas it now commands the entire stage.

'Breaking the Rules' has certainly got better and better over the years. It seems to go at a more relaxing pace, which gives it a more natural and free flowing feel. Everyone was on top form. The Marian Consort sounded exceptionally crisp and clean, and Gerald has only bettered the entire monologue throughout the years.
  I actually felt very at home with 'Breaking the Rules', as I had a lovely, warm cosy feeling throughout. I even caught myself saying some of the monologue to myself, as well as having a little sing-a-long with some of the music.

I would highly recommend anyone to grab a ticket to see this wonderful production; as I didn't think it could get any better, but this show has bettered itself throughout the years.

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