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Sadler's Wells is a site for sore eyes

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May I confirm some of Geoffrey Collens' experience of the new Sadler's Wells Theatre (aj 7.1.99)? On New Year's Eve we saw The Bartered Bride, though it was more like The Bart Brie, since from our back-row stall seats (only £30 each) the top half of the proscenium opening and the subtitles were obscured by the undercroft of the balcony above, not to mention the acoustically muffled orchestra. For an unfamiliar Czech opera featuring high-wire circus acrobats, this was a bit of a disadvantage. After a while we guiltily moved into one of the three empty rows in front of us, where, if you rested your chin on the back of the seat in front, you could just about read half the subtitles.

The production was so stunning that one could forgive the freezing foyer (no draught lobby), the usual wait and battle at the bar, the temporary partitions and the complexities of the diy cloakroom, but the idea that you only need to see half the proscenium for even a classical ballet is absurd. A pity because the idea of the stage extending right past the walls of the theatre is a good one.


London W3

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