Printable CopyTOSCA
Mopoke Theatre Productions
Clayton Wesley Uniting Church
Until 23 Feb 2019

Review by Tony Busch

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

“Tosca” is a big ask for any company as it demands not only superb vocal skills but significant acting ability as well. Joanna McWaters delivers both. Her Floria Tosca is feisty, self-indulgent, steely and emotional, a diva used to getting her own way.

McWaters has a powerful voice that she uses to great effect and her Act 2 scenes in the Palazzo Farnese are engrossing. The showstopper, “Vissi d’arte”, comes with some hefty baggage but she delivers a controlled and passionate performance that tugs at the heart.

The range of Cavaradossi sits less comfortably on Andrew Turner’s shoulders, his upper register seeming to teeter on the absolute edge of control. Turner delivers some nice moments but often fails to capture the heroics of the role.

Joshua Rowe, on the other hand, invests Scarpia with a disquieting malevolence, not quite the pure evil of some characterisations but no less sinister. His singing is beautifully controlled and there are some lovely subtleties in his acting.

Daniel Goodburn and Rodney Kirk double as Agnelotti/Spoletta and Sacristan/Sciarrone respectively and acquit themselves well.

Nicholas Cannon’s direction is fluid and focussed and he makes excellent use of a somewhat limited performance space, never letting the pace drop or the tension lag.

A much too loud off-stage cantata competed with the on-stage performances which was distracting and there was an unfortunate failure with the stage gun which rendered Cavaradossi’s death a little awkward.

Andrew Georg does an amazing job with the piano reduction managing to wring every ounce of drama from the music on an instrument that did not even seem to be a full-sized grand.

This is a very neat show, mounted seemingly on a shoestring budget but providing an excellent chamber production of a full sized classic.