North West Theatre

Doctor Dee

Damon Albarn and Rufus Norris
01 Jul 11 to 09 Jul 11
Palace Theatre
Part of: Manchester International Festival

In the age before science and magic parted company, Doctor John Dee was the ultimate Renaissance Man: astrologer, alchemist, mathematician and spy, he coined the term ‘British Empire’ and equipped the Elizabethan Court with the knowledge to make it manifest. The inspiration for both Marlowe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s Prospero, Dee studied the Heavens, he spoke with Archangels, and he paid a bitter personal price.

Doctor Dee explores ritual and symbolism in this country, past and present, using John Dee – one of England’s greatest but largely forgotten men – as catalyst.

Nothing listed

...narrative isn't this production's strong point... some striking images created by director [Rufus] Norris... aided by Paul Atkinson's set design and Katrina Lindsay's costume designs, which all marry together perfectly. [Damon] Albarn's music juxtaposes many different styles of playing and singing... which actually works very well. But as for plot... well, I wasn't the only one asking others at the interval whether they knew what was going on... Technically the show is very impressive... Perhaps it was me not getting it; perhaps it is just aesthetically pleasing but meaningless images; or perhaps it is Art.
British Theatre Guide
on one level the show is a striking success, the stunning multi-layered set design by Paul Atkinson is a sight to behold... Katrina Lindsay’s beautifully conceived costume designs... Rufus Norris’ direction is full of visual splendour... an expensive production of style over substance; for at the heart of Albarn and Norris’ opera is a lack of storytelling finesse... Albarn lacks any vocal dexterity to deliver them in anything other than a rambling mumble, and I won’t even start with the highly underused BBC Philharmonic...
The Public Reviews (Rating: 2/5)
...perhaps co-creators Rufus Norris (director) and Damon Albarn (composer/performer) have been wilfully opaque... Musically the show is excellent... Albarn’s performance is less successful; his rough and ready vocals are not as audible as those of the trained opera cast... hard to see any connection between the lyrics of his songs and the action on-stage... Visually the show is amazing. Katrina Lindsay’s lush costumes...
What's On Stage (Rating: 3/5)
...barely makes any effort to piece Dee’s remarkably full life together into a coherent narrative... a succession of quite beautiful scenes, both visually and musically, which hardly hang together but still, somehow, work as a breathtaking spectacle... too often, the eye wanders to Albarn, who somewhat off-puttingly peers down on proceedings... the decision to have the lead character almost mute is a mistake... rich in invention, imagery and imagination... lacks a human heart...
The Stage