Tag Archives: Oliver Tompsett

Treason the Musical in Concert – Cadogon Hall

Treason the Musical - Cadogan Hall

With 2020’s Guy Fawkes celebrations sacrificed to restrictions and next November still far away, it may seem like a strange time to premiere a new musical based on the Gunpowder Plot. But we’ve been in lockdown for so long it’s hard to know what month it is and a Spring preview of Treason the Musical gives creators Ricky Allan and Kieran Lynn plenty of time to work on their next iteration for an autumn staging. Filmed as live and streamed from Cadogan Hall, this 50-minute concert staging certainly suggests a production with a lot of fantastic material and plenty of room to expand.

Musicals set in centuries past are surprisingly few and far between given the scope for flamboyant costume, stylised dance and dramatic stories. Two recent shows have not only caught the popular imagination but managed to bring history to life by giving it a contemporary resonance using musical style, tone and design with Six, based on the wives of Henry VIII, and of course Hamilton about a Founding Father of America, demonstrating how to create very human insights into famous stories.

Reaching back to the final days of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, through the accession of a new monarch whose failure to bring religious tolerance to England underlies the plot to eradicate the ruling class, and concluding with the round-up of the co-conspirators, Allan and Lynn’s musical covers a lot of ground. Framed by the grief of Thomas Percy’s widow Martha (Lucie Jones), Treason the Musical is told in flashback using a female perspective on a story that is, in the history books at least, exclusively male.

The action is also directed by a female Narrator who summarises large chunks of the story in rhyme that transport the viewer back and forth through time, outlines the growing contextual frustration that drives the Plotters, presents the characters while introducing and sometimes explaining their interior life. It is a useful structure, particularly in this Cadogan Hall try-out where digital viewers are guided through the sparsely-staged story and its numerous inter-locking plot points.

And there is much to admire in Allan and Lynn’s approach which eschews the character of Guido Fawkes – who does not appear at all – to focus on Thomas Percy in the first half and in the second on the driving force of Robert Catesby who instigated and coordinated the conspiracy (in this retelling). In doing so, Treason The Musical is also interested in the wider impact of religious persecution after Elizabeth I’s long rule, the quickly fractured hope of a new age and the sacrificial wishes of some of the individuals involved. 50-minutes is not quite long enough to explore and develop these themes sufficiently but the foundation of a bigger musical is clearly in place.

The Songs

Allan has composed twelve consistent songs that draw on both traditional musical theatre and more historically-appropriate folk styles in the score to bridge the 400 year gap between the events relayed and the viewing audience. Together they make an atmospheric combination, one that is generally favourable and sympathetic to the schemers, offering psychological depth in places as well as a growing fervour of discontent as the events of 1605 accelerate. The opening number When Will I See You Again sung by Martha Percy reflects on mourning her husband Thomas, immediately reorientating a historical story that we think we know so well and suggesting the very personal and painful consequences for this women. It sets the tone for a show that is shaped both by the inevitability of its outcome (we all know how it ended) and our preconceived, distorted and disassociated socially manufactured understanding of the Gunpowder Plot.

Allan’s approach seeks to restore the everyday reality to this intrigue and the humanity of its proponents, exploring this in the more dramatic and insightful numbers given to the leads. Blind Faith, a duet for the Percys, for example examines the strain on their marriage, an obsessional number in which Martha descries losing her husband to the cause while Thomas explores his obsession with Robert Catesby, simultaneously sharing lyrics but speaking about quite different relationships. Similarly, Catesby’s first big number I’ve Got a Plot (that rhymes anarchy with monarchy) has a beating pulse that builds as he tries to inspire his gathered colleagues, suggesting both the danger of their meeting and the conviction required to instigate such a deadly action.

While the tone is largely quite serious, a single encounter with King James provides the show’s only true comic number when Thomas delivers a letter from the Earl of Northumberland to the Scottish King in 1603 acquiring promises of tolerance for Catholic subjects. It is a high point of the show, richly characterised by Daniel Boys in the role of the Stuart heir that plays with notions of James’s reputed sexuality as well as making him a spoiled, needy and demanding brat who addresses both Thomas and the audience quite differently while warming to the idea of his own beneficence should he inherit the English throne – there are notes of Hamilton‘s George III. James should really have a light Scottish accent but this is a character who demands at least another song if not several in an extended version of Treason the Musical.

The Narrator never sings but Allan and Lynn’s use of verse and rhyming couplets is another nod to the style of the era. When James ascends the throne and quickly fails to honour his promise of tolerance, the story escalates dramatically, mirrored in the pace of the Narrator’s speech which turns into rap and beat poetry, as Allan and Lynn again traverse the boundary between traditional verse and contemporary rhythms to add shape and variety to the different ways that information, plot developments and character insight are conveyed within the structure of the show.


The way we are taught to collectively remember history is event-driven, signified by key dates, simplified stories and moments of change or linear progress. So our modern impression of the Gunpowder Plot is shaped by our knowledge of its outcome and the associated annual celebrations that make the original events feel more like a cartoon strip than a dangerous sequence of activities involving people as real as we are. Allan and Lynn have taken a valuable character-based approach to the creation of Treason the Musical and while there is more development to be done here, there is a solid underpinning of complex and conflicting motivations across the characters they have chosen to follow that offer interesting and potentially affecting portraits of hazily understood individuals.

Primarily, Treason the Musical sees the events of 1603-5 from the perspective of Thomas Percy whose own fluctuating emotional state is the audience’s guide through the story. As an emissary from the Duke of Northumberland (an underused Cedric Neal) to King James, Thomas is optimistic that a new age of acceptance is about to dawn, revealed in the number All We Dreamed and More. The rapid decline of that fantasy draws him into the circle and thrall of Catesby where his dissastisfaction is transformed into murderous intent.

Treason the Musical is not quite there in fully articulating that journey but there are hints enough in this first draft for singer Bradley Jaden (After You and Les Miserables: The Staged Concert) to capture Thomas’s frustration and readiness to act. That he finds solace in Catesby’s charismatic company is clear and the score builds to a Les Miserables-like stridency that is often engrossing. In a longer runtime there is much more to Thomas’s character that could be explored; perhaps a duet with Catesby to compound the feelings of admiration, some post-Plot reflections on whether it was worth it or last thoughts about his wife and his own death. Thomas certainly deserves one or more solos to tell us more about his motivation.

Oliver Tompsett (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change) as Robert Catesby is the Enjolras figure of Treason the Musical, quickly making his mark in the second half of the show with his blazing fervour for change in Got To Take Things Into Our Own Hands that leads quickly into the rabble rousing I’ve Got a Plot. It’s a great role for Tompsett who fills Robert with fire and certainty and, again, a longer production could explore his charm and impact on others in greater depth. Allan also gives Robert a fascinating piece of psychology with a backstory that uses the death of his wife to suggest his own desire for a speedy end. The haunting solo Cold, Hard Ground brilliantly implies that Robert Catesby was determined to die on one hill or another, and the Gunpowder Plot was a convenience – it is a really strong character point that offers plenty of scope for development in the future.

The remaining cast – though filled with great musical theatre talent – has far less to work with in their roles with Boys and Neal under-utilised as King James and the Earl of Northumberland, while the secondary cast including Rebecca LaChance, Waylon Jacobs, Emmanuel Kojo and Sharon Rose provide some beautiful harmonies and vocal support in representing the wider conspirators and their circle. Debris Stevenson doesn’t sing but as Narrator is key to welcoming and authoritatively guiding the audience through this story. Even with additional songs and an expanded life for some of the characters, the role of the Narrator in any future iteration is a crucial one, not least in offering a non-gendered role while underscoring the themes of storytelling, memory and inevitability that drive the action.

The Future of Treason the Musical

There is a huge amount here for Allan, Lynn and their creative team to be quite proud of and a future draft of the show can only build-on and expand the impressive material they already have in place. But there is still some work to do to really flesh-out the concepts the musical is exploring as well as envisaging what a staged performance might look like. Key to this is length and this first-look implies the show could feasibly double its runtime, dividing neatly into a Two Act structure that allows the creators to burrow a little deeper either into the build-up to the 5 November 1605 and the motivation of key individuals, or its aftermath where the writers could speculate on those last hours surrounded in Holbeche House.

Using the existing material, there are two possible options; the first would see Act One consider the context for religious dissatisfaction, why the broken promises of King James’s early reign took men to the point of no return and the pressures Thomas and Martha Percy experienced as Catholics forced to hide their faith, concluding at the point of putting the conspiracy into practice with I’ve Got a Plot – a good finale song. Act Two could then dramatise the days before and after 5 November which the current draft skips over, leaving the Narrator to slightly unsatisfactorily tell the audience about the main event.

Alternatively, leaving the familiar parts of the story to the audience’s already primed minds, the show could consider much of the existing material Act One but introduce a more reflective second where the men could muse on their decisions, the cause and what it means to so fatally fail. There are many examples in theatre and literature of such introspective moments, from the night before Agincourt in Henry V to the eve of the Somme in Birdsong and even in Les Miserables behind the barricade. In each, men quietly commune with their souls before facing the enemy one last time. A similar exploration of that moment of pause in the siege at Holbeche would add a new dimension to this story and the unfamiliar aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot where all we really teach is that the men were pursued, surrounded and savagely punished. This would add weight to Martha’s final contemplation of the personal cost to a newly-minted widow.

How the show would work in practice will help to clarify some of this, by thinking about the transitions between songs and if additional score or book is needed to facilitate changes of scene, perspective and mood. That this concert staging of Treason the Musical directed by Hannah Chissick leaves you wanting a little bit more is a good thing and testament to the exciting work that Allan and Lynn have produced here. What they have is a tantalising first draft that offers plenty of options for development, some strong character portraits and a platform for expansion. Most importantly, they have something new to say and by the time November comes around, Treason the Musical may be ready to explode.

Treason the Musical in Concert was performed at Cadogon Hall and was available to stream from 12-14 March. Follow this blog on Twitter @culturalcap1 or Facebook Cultural Capital Theatre Blog.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change – London Coliseum

I Love You You're Perfect Now Change - London Coliseum

With changing restrictions over Christmas and into the New Year bringing another lockdown and a now undefined period of theatre closure, it has taken a few weeks for venues to readjust any live plans and return to digital production. But, the weeks ahead promise plenty of new shows and material which will be streamed for the first time including major players like ATG and now the London Coliseum making their first independent ventures into the digital space after almost a year of closure. Announced late last year, Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Roberts’s comic musical anthology I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change has been pre-recorded at the London Coliseum and streamed over three nights last week.

This St Martin’s Lane venue has long mixed opera, ballet and musical theatre, drawing audiences in recent years with starry revivals of Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close and Chess with Michael Ball, while two attempts to host a much anticipated (and needed) return for Hairspray with Ball and Paul Merton were sacrificed to Coronavirus, with the show now rather optimistically slated for April 2021. However, the Coliseum hasn’t been entirely dormant, serving as the venue for several of Stream Theatre’s pre-recorded concerts while hosting the digital debut of new musical After You in October, but Kirk Jameson’s production for Lambert and Jackson is the first to sell under the banner of the venue.

Much like the stunning Songs for a New World which reopened the London Palladium to the public in October (and whose deserved extended run at the Vaudeville has sadly become the latest lockdown casualty), DiPietro and Roberts’s musical is a series of disassociated sketches that look at the experience and process of romantic relationships across a lifetime as a series of couples and individuals navigate the highs and deep deep lows of falling and staying in love. And although no character or scenario appears more than once across this 80-minute production, the segments meld wonderfully together to form a coherent piece that borrows from plenty of theatre favourites along the way.

I Love You, You’re Perfect

First staged in 1996 on Broadway, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change feels as relevant as ever as the characters steer their way through the despair of awkward first encounters, endure tedious one-sided dates, reluctantly marry, have children and suffer the agonies of breakups, divorce and widowhood, little of which has changed in the 25 years since that inaugural production. Some of the detail has been brought up to date with a couple of recent replacements that substitute the agony of waiting for a call with the indignity of explicit photographs, while twenty-first century nods to popular culture giants like Netflix have found their way into the lyrics. Nonetheless, the structure, mixed musical styles and scenarios of DiPietro and Roberts’s musical have stood the test of time – not least with the return of video dating.

Musically, Roberts’s has written a show that uses an eclectic approach to maintain the audience’s interest in what are around twenty individual scenarios held together by their thematic and semi-chronological connection. Roberts has taken advantage of those differences to present some eclectic musical styles that touch on traditional musical theatre, the rhythms of Argentine tango, country, ballads and comic ditties to bring a broad but complementary range of influences into what remains a consistent and cohesive score. Roberts’s skill is to use each song to amplify the personality of the singer and their particular scenario whether it is the fed-up multiple bridesmaid performing a slightly bitter country rendition of Always a Bridesmaid, a seemingly doomed couple arguing over film taste during a cinema date, the amusing desperation of sex-starved parents performing a bedtime dance with their children while spotting a rare opportunity for an early night in Married Tango or the clipped tones of the modern singles with Better Things to Do than endure the inevitable perils of relationships.

And while I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change doesn’t follow a single character, the trajectory of the show builds both comic and emotional investment as each new vignette bonds the audience to the stories that come before and after. DiPietro plots a relatively rare course in an anthology show by including dramatised contextual scenes that ground the songs and give them additional heft. Unusually, some of these scenes are almost as long as the songs themselves including an extended scenario in which a gay couple force new baby stories on the happily single female friend – a nod to Company – before one half of the partnership is given a reflective solo about his lost single life. By the time the audience reach the only segment without a song, Rose Ritz’s increasingly moving dating video, and the two elderly strangers contemplating a first date after a funeral, the charm of DiPietro’s instant characterisation as well as the cumulative impact of these stories has entirely made its mark.

… Now Change

Reimagining this show for socially distant performance and digital streaming has given the musical a different life and Jameson has deftly translated DiPietro and Roberts’s vision to the screen. The intimacy and connection to each sketch is enhanced by a rotating cast of just four musical theatre performers who unite in various combinations to play lovers, friends, ex’s and strangers who build a rapport with each other and the audience. The connection between them only grows as the show unfolds, allowing the tight knit cast to convincingly portray relationships of anything from five minutes to thirty years while implying characters of all ages that play to their strengths as individual performers.

Brenda Edwards’s powerful voice is used to great effect in Better Things to Do as her character forcefully suggests skipping the relationship and heading to the wistful post-break-up phase to save them both some time, while making the first move with her shy squash partner in a subsequent scene offers Edwards the chance to belt I Will Be Loved Tonight using the full force of the Coliseum acoustic as she is framed against the pretty auditorium. There are some great comic moments too as the disgruntled woman bored on a date and as the amped-up sultry mother determined to sleep with her husband.

Alice Fearn leans into the tragi-comic numbers to produce some really affecting performances that skillfully tread the boundary between hilarity and despair. The bitter bridesmaid is particularly enjoyable as Fearn gives vent to years of terrible dresses subtly linked to doomed marriages, while her outrage as a young woman being sent A Picture of His… exactly captures the mystification of the modern girl with that particular photographic practice. There is a great duet with Oliver Tompsett in which two geeks wish they were A Stud and Babe only to find they are better suited as they are, while Fearn’s tour de force moment in the Rose Ritz monologue is a brilliant piece of theatre, both delude and embarrassing but also sweet, sad and really moving.

Oliver Tompsett is given some of the more exuberantly comic roles including the gay dad so immersed with his child he can’t shake off the baby talk in The Baby Song that includes an unexpectedly funny rap sequence, while his roles as many imperfect men in Single Man Drought, A Picture of His… and Wedding Vows are a fun collection of the smug, inane and silly forms of machismo. But Tompsett also gets his softer moments, particuarly in the delightful Shouldn’t I Be Less in Love With You as a long-married man wondering why his overwhelming love for his wife never wore off, one of the show’s tender highlights.

Finally, Simon Lipkin mixes some of the slimier personalities with the hapless and misguided, playing an affronted suitor on a first date with Edwards in Not Tonight I’m Busy, Busy, Busy / Better Things to Do as well as a smug father in the Whatever Happened to Baby’s Parents scene. But Lipkin’s most memorable performance comes towards the end of the show in the gentle romance of Funerals Are for Dating where he employs a very different physicality to create the mildly flirtatious old man looking for love, a scene filled with sweetness and personality.

But what really sets this apart from earlier versions of the show is Jameson’s approach to filming and its clear how much theatre directors have learned in a relatively short time. The style here is entirely in tune with Curve Leicester’s triumphant Sunset Boulevard in Concert that reimagined the semi-staged digital style using innovative approaches to location and shot selection that enhanced the themes and emotional experience of the characters. Jameson does the same, giving each vignette a slightly different mood and tone while using the camera to create alternative storytelling approaches.

In A Stud and a Babe, Jameson visualises the fantasy sequence using a cutting technique that switches to a heightened tone and hyper-real filming style where colour and mood are designed to contrast with the real life scenario. A similar technique in The Baby Song takes Tompsett’s character into a whizzing flashback / dream sequence about a night out that accompanies his rap. Whirling vigorously around the performer who gestures and dances into the camera, it gives the song a vital energy that explodes this moment of freedom and illusion that the character experiences before a sudden return to a still-contented reality.

And these production techniques are employed across the show to create feelings of distortion (particularly in Wedding Vows, sections of which are given a woozy effect), comedic impact such as the slightly silly Satisfaction Guaranteed advertorial for legal services in the bedroom, and particularly for emotional impact, using intense close up and stillness to intensify the more touching and sorrowful moments. Jameson selects these shots with particular dexterity, understanding the show’s status as a digital experience and using filming techniques to variously amplify and underscore the meaning and building effect of each scene.

With its universal comment on relationships, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change could probably make room for more than one slightly cliched same-sex relationship and, in reimagining it for 2021, the production could have been even more ambitious in representing a wider variety of pairings. Inevitably with an anthology show, some segments work better than others but with a show of this nature the overall effect is key and proves more than the sum of its parts, with some of the bittersweet moments lingering long after the 80-minute performance comes to a close.

With an indefinite amount of lockdown to come, the chance of seeing a live theatre show any time soon feels pretty remote, so a new tranche of digital offerings is to be welcomed. With filming techniques, styles and direction improving all the time, streamed performances are more adept at creating shots that offer audiences greater intimacy and connection with the original material. This semi-staged production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change exemplifies our evolving relationship with digital theatre; we may have been on the rebound from our true love of live theatre, but as the month pass this slow burn anthology of stories is changing our future.

I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change was streamed by the London Coliseum from 28-30 January. Follow this blog on Twitter @culturalcap1 or Facebook Cultural Capital Theatre Blog.

The Best of James Bond – Royal Festival Hall

The Best of James Bond - Southbank Centre

Another Bond film is slowly approaching; first speculation over the next actor to play the role merely resulted in confirmation that Daniel Craig would assume the mantle for the fifth time; now rumours – seemingly confirmed by the man himself – are rife that Danny Boyle will direct and is working on a script. The only other aspect of Bond preparation that garners so much attention is the song, which as well as being an early indication of the film’s tone, also has to live up to an illustrious history of incredible music that has represented Bond since 1963 – get it wrong and it could colour the reputation of the film.

And we love to rank them, type “Bond theme songs” into Google and most of the hits are for websites rating the songs from best to worst. Our favourite tunes may depend on the decade you were born and the incumbent Bond, in fact it may be easier to find a consensus on the least impressive songs – here’s looking at you Sam Smith (despite the Oscar), Madonna Jack White and Alicia Keyes – but the Bond song is indivisible from the film itself.

In the Daniel Craig era it seems that a poorly received Bond theme indicates a disappointing film, as the rather forgettable tunes that accompanied Quantum of Solace and Spectre attest. But that hasn’t always been the case and the Southbank Centre’s evening dedicated to the Bond theme performed by the London Concert Orchestra is a wonderful reminder of an unstoppable film franchise that has produced hit after hit for some of the most well-known artists of their day.

With the still fairly recent death of Roger Moore, sadly preventing any chance of every Bond actor being seen together, as well as the deaths of Chris Cornell in May last year and three-time Bond director Lewis Gilbert last month, plus the release of collectable 10p coins containing the gun barrel celebrating the Best of British, this concert is a timely reminder of how deeply the character and love of Bond is woven into our psyche. Whether born of endless Bank Holiday repeats, his Olympics special with the Queen or the sheer persistence of his reincarnations, a new Bond film is still a major event, getting it right is a matter of national pride.

Presented in chronological order, The Best of James Bond is a both a history of changing music tastes in the last 55 years and a tribute to the most talented songwriters, musicians and performers in (predominantly) British music. It begins, of course, with the instrumental Bond signature that has appeared in every movie since Dr No. Written by Monty Norman, arguably one of the most well-known pieces of cinematic music ever composed, instantly recognisable and brilliantly performed here by the London Concert Orchestra led by John Rigby.

Throughout the evening Rigby also acts as a warm and welcoming master of ceremonies, filling the spaces between songs with plenty of Bond music facts and introducing the two established musical theatre performers – Oliver Tompsett and Louise Dearman – who take on the unenviable role of doubling for singers including Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Lulu and Tina Turner. The structure is simple but effective, taking each film in turn, with the occasional digression into the wider cultural context, which makes for an entertaining and satisfying tribute to the continuing influence of the franchise.

As Rigby explains, it wasn’t until the second film, From Russia with Love, that the idea of the Bond theme was established and, with scores composed by John Barry for the remaining Connery years, this was a period of memorable music. The themes associated with the first Bond, played in full in the first half of The Best of James Bond, have much in common, and while those now familiar big brass sounds were becoming a core feature of the Bond soundtrack, heard together here, each lone voice has a haunting quality, a warning to Bond or his companions of the trials to come.

While Tompsett captures the smooth tones of wistful crooner Matt Monroe in the title track to From Russia with Love which was sung over the movie’s closing credits, he also brings the more dramatic passages of Tom Jones classic Thunderball, a particular favourite, to life – a feature of Tompsett’s performances throughout the evening – and gives a genuinely beautiful rendition of Louis Armstrong’s We Have All the Time in the World from the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which Tompsett evokes all the sadness of that particular movie moment.

The first half entirely belongs to Dearman however who is introduced to the audience performing probably the most famous Bond song of all time, and the blueprint for every film and theme to come, Goldfinger. Entirely unintimidated by having to represent the inimitable Shirley Bassey, Dearman is superb and the power of her voice produces chills as she belts out this most memorable of songs. The artists don’t exactly impersonate the original musicians but, with fans in mind, equally they don’t often depart from the way each song was originally performed, so Dearman demonstrates her range as she perfectly recreates every trill and change of tone with ease in both Goldfinger and, later, Diamonds are Forever. You Only Live Twice between them just lacks the reflective softness of Nancy Sinatra’s tone, but there’s no denying the power of Dearman’s voice, and the accompaniment by the London Concert Orchestra is faultless, even as they tackle the instrumental theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The second half of The Best of James Bond which moves into the 1970s and the Roger Moore era, surprisingly omits Paul McCartney’s superb rockier tune for Live and Let Die, but the Orchestra is saving that for the encore. So, Dearman opens the second half with Lulu’s Man with the Golden Gun and then a medley of Nobody Does it Better, Carly Simon’s stunning theme to The Spy Who Loved Me and Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only. The cheekier Moore era loved a romantic ballad, focusing on women in love with Britain’s irresistible spy and the Orchestra take centre stage with instrumental performances of Moonraker and All Time High from Octopussy, that brings in the saxophone as the 80s dawned.

While women have never enjoyed much agency in Bond films, often little more than lovers to be cast-aside between movies or unconvincing nuclear physicists, in the music, solo female performers have far outnumbered men, and this was particularly true in the Moore years where most of the themes were performed by female artists. It’s some time, therefore, before Tompsett reappears in the second half, signalling the brief moment in the 1980s, linking Moore with his successor Timothy Dalton, where two bands provided the title music – Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill  and A-ha’s The Living Daylights (also favourites which stand well in the canon). Both suit Tompsett’s voice extremely well and offer the Orchestra more interesting challenges to recreate their distinctive synthesised sounds.

The evening concludes with a quick race through the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig eras, as Dearman sings a medley of Gladys Knight’s Licence to Kill, Tina Turner’s Goldeneye and Sheryl Crow’s Tomorrow Never Dies (one of the few instances where the song is probably better than the film). In the only gender-swapped performance of the evening, Tompsett offers an excellent rendition of Garbage’s accompaniment to The World is Not Enough, brilliantly supported by the orchestra, before the artists tackle Skyfall and The Writing’s on the Wall from Spectre. Of course, ending on one of the most divisive themes isn’t ideal, so Live and Let Die anachronistically becomes the rousing encore, showcasing the incredible skill of this most accomplished orchestra.

Carefully arranged to give due precedence to the most high-profile or complex Bond themes, the show is far more than a quick succession of performances. To add further texture, the London Concert Orchestra also perform a collection of well-known melodies from crime series down the ages to reflect Bond’s centrality to our wider interest in crime and detective fiction. Arranged into three ‘guess the theme tune’ sections, which create a bit of audience interaction, the first comprises some well-known British programmes including The Sweeney, Poirot, Sherlock, Morse and The Bill (the composer of which is part of the Orchestra), while an American compilation links the music to Hawaii-Five-O, Miami Vice and Hill Street Blues. And, as those are all rather male-dominated, there is also a section devoted to a mere seven female crime fighters, including Miss Marple, Murder She Wrote and The Gentle Touch, that tells you all you need to know about the relatively poor representation of female-hero figures in the last six decades of television.

55 years, 6 Bonds and 24 films, the music of Bond has been the soundtrack to most of our lives. Monty Norman’s original ‘James Bond Theme’ is a by-word for a character recognised the world over, and although he may still be a ‘sexist, misogynist dinosaur’, he’s part of the fabric of British society, managing to look backwards and forwards at the same time. Danny Boyle is promising a Bond for the #MeToo era, a much-needed tonic to the victim Bond girls of recent years, and it will surely be reflected in the choice of music. Whether it’s another soloist or, perhaps, the return of the band remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure, on the basis of The Best of James Bond, they have an illustrious musical history to live up to. Let the speculation begin…

The Best of James Bond was performed at the Royal Festival Hall on 23 March. Visit their website for future events. Follow this blog on Twitter @culturalcap1

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