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Your reaction: Idomeneo

What did you think of Martin Kušej's production of Mozart's early masterpiece?

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

4 November 2014 at 12.20pm | 42 Comments

Press reviews:
What's On Stage ★★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★
Bachtrack ★★★★
Guardian ★★★
Telegraph ★★★
Independent ★★★
Music OMH ★★★
Arts Desk (£) ★★
The Stage ★★
Times (£) ★

What did you think of Idomeneo?

Idomeneo runs until 24 November 2014. Tickets are still available.

The production is a co-production with Opéra de Lyon and Vlaamse Opera, Antwerp, and is generously supported by the Friends of Covent Garden.

By Hayley Bartley (Former Content Producer (Learning))

4 November 2014 at 12.20pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Martin Kušej, Idomeneo, Production, review, Social Media, twitter, your reaction

This article has 42 comments

  1. Mike responded on 4 November 2014 at 1:57pm Reply

    It's productions like this that make me wonder why I go to the effort of buying tickets and going to 20+ ROH events each season. I absolutely love opera, but it may be cheaper and more enjoyable to just buy audio recordings and listen to the wonderful music at home. Not saying that "modern", updated productions are a bad thing, but please, please directors understand that opera audience expect you to do so much more than just making everyone wear suits and move around some silly props on stage! It's always dull and many times also distasteful.

  2. Ann O'Shaughnessy responded on 4 November 2014 at 9:49pm Reply

    What a shame to degrade the beauty of Mozart's music expertly sung with such a coarse, unpleasant production. Having read the Times interview with Martin Kusej on Saturday, Nov 1, perhaps I should have been prepared.. How sad if this is considered progress..

  3. Stephen Diviani responded on 5 November 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    I’d only seen one other production of ‘Idomeneo’, and I was very bored by it. So I was little hesitant about seeing this one, but it was revelatory and compelling. The staging was tremendous. On almost every level this was a great experience. Recommend it.

  4. Bill worley responded on 5 November 2014 at 12:57pm Reply

    Yet more junk on the CG Stage. The management is treating the audience with contempt. Booing was richly deserved but I don't supposed anyone cared.

    The director has admitted he does not care for the opera so why did CG engage him and why did he agree to do it?

    Singing in places was at best mediocre on the first night. Orchestral playing and conducting superb. Good to hear the ballet music at the end and I was thankful there was no actual ballet.

    Another disaster.

  5. Dragos Cojocaru responded on 6 November 2014 at 6:46am Reply

    Awfully ugly production, pity. Great singing and conducting!

  6. Liane responded on 6 November 2014 at 12:30pm Reply

    I agree completely with the booing and the negative commentary regarding the production which I found utterly boring and unimaginative. However, music divine and singing superb by everyone. I particularly liked Malin Bystrom in her last aria which she sung with great expression and passion.

  7. Arthur Dewar responded on 6 November 2014 at 6:38pm Reply

    A fine performance of a magnificent opera totally ruined by a cliché-ridden and hideously designed updated production which offered no new insights . As far too often these days, I wish I had stayed at home and listened to the opera on CD without the distraction of a crass staging.

  8. John responded on 6 November 2014 at 10:52pm Reply

    While the singing was alright, the production was horrendous, boring, confusing, full of stupid nonsense and insulting to Mozart's brilliant music. The finale was cut out and replaced with 5 minutes of revolving stage. Boo!

  9. John Thomas responded on 6 November 2014 at 11:21pm Reply

    Dear Mr Holten
    You probably will not remember my correspondence with you following attending your production of Parsifal last year. I was extremely disappointed with the performance - the Zen Cube, the lackluster set, the entire cast looking as if they had been dressed by a couple of charity shops and some of the vocals were dreary. I wasn't the only one of this opinion. I, my wife and son were sitting in the elevated section at the rear of the stalls and you people were voicing their opinion - a German lady sitting next to my wife was making her views very clear indeed.

    It was not with surprise that I read in The Times this evening an article relating to your production of Idomeneo - reading the article took me right back to Parsifal and what seems to be your calling in life to impose 'modern' at all costs. The Idomeneo cast also looked as if kitted out by a charity shop with a rubber shark from Toys R Us. What disheartened me more however, were your comments that there are only 150 operas and people see the same old thing over and over again. HOW ARROGANT!

    If you want to see an Opera in the UK you would either go locally for example Cardiff or see a production at a Cinema. You pay £70 for excellent Theatre seats, and afterwards you go home. If you are looking for a special event then you would consider the Royal Opera House. Of course, the tickets are £200 each and you book into a hotel for a couple nights, have a few meals in town and look forward to a nice event. So please do not label people as humdrums who are happy to watch repeat after repeat - you may as well stay home and watch TV !

    I wish I had had the guts to start booing in Parsifal - I don't accept that booing is spreading like a plague from Germany and France - you need to look at what you are offering people and what people would like to see. I think that you just don't get it at all! I would love to have purchased tickets for Tristan und Isolde in December however, that again is a 'modern' production so I'll give it a miss. What about Der Fliegende Hollander - is that modern again ? However, there is Bryn Terfel I suppose. I would also enjoy Die Zauberflote - I do understand that these offerings may not involve you but it would be so disappointing if they were all 'modern' cost saving events.

    Could I please suggest that whenever an Opera is advertised the words MODERN or TRADITIONAL should appear clearly following the title. I mean - imagine if you turned up to see Swan Lake and the Swans were all dressed in blue dungarees !!! Would that excite you ??? Not if it's a special once a year event for us provincials - you would feel cheated - Opera goers are not all oligarchs - I suspect the majority work for a living. I expect something special from the ROH and that's seemingly not what you get. Also, the memory of a poor experience lasts and lasts and lasts - I'm writing to you now recalling an event of 12 months ago - how sad am I? The Times article did comfort me I must say.

    Three Jeers for your modern performances !

    • Kasper Holten responded on 8 November 2014 at 11:02am

      Dear Mr Thomas,

      Thank you for your comments, which you have also sent directly to me via email.

      I must say, I find it difficult to have a discussion about a production which you have not seen, but surely not all modern or controversial work is bad?

      I have certainly never suggested that people who watch operas again and again are ‘humdrums’ - on the contrary, I am very grateful to our loyal audiences, and indeed I myself am one of those who see the same operas over and over again. In fact, the comments about people who have seen operas many times in the article in The Times were not by me, but by an opera critic (Warwick Thompson), so I find it surprising that you call me arrogant – because of something not I, but someone else, has said?

      You say it 'seems to be your calling in life to impose "modern" at all costs’.
      I believe in having a variety of production styles on offer. My own recent production of Idomeneo in Vienna was criticised for being too conventional and old-fashioned. And indeed so was our last new production at Covent Garden (I due Foscari). If you look at the Season, there are both traditional and modern productions, so why this makes you feel that I am only interested in ‘modern’ productions, I don’t understand. I like to see different kinds of production, modern or traditional, and am really more interested in whether they were good or not. But I will admit that I do like to be challenged to think and consider and even sometimes be irritated by a production.

      I find it hard to accept that because tickets may be expensive, we should always ‘play safe’. Does opera not deserve to be taken seriously as an art form that also holds innovation and risk taking?

      I do agree with you, however, that we should try in our advance marketing to be as honest as we can about what you should expect. For the Flying Dutchman and Magic Flute – which you ask about – these are existing productions and you will be able to find pictures of them online to see for yourself.

      Best wishes
      Kasper Holten

    • Diana responded on 18 November 2014 at 3:08pm

      Dear Mr Thomas

      In your comment you mention that the tickets to ROH are £200 each, and that you go to ROH as a special once a year event since "opera goers are not all oligarchs".

      I believe the frequency of your visits to be more of a personal choice issue rather than a financial issue, as I myself am not an oligarch, but I see almost every production each season. In fact ROH tickets start at as low as £6-£7 and decent seating places can often be purchased for £13 to £40.

      Clearly, artists working on productions can’t please everyone. Someone like me who may have seen several different classical productions of a specific opera may be quite interested in a contemporary twist. Someone like you is looking for a classical and traditional production. The only solution for people like us is doing proper research before we book tickets to an event, to know what to expect and to avoid disappointment, particularly if we have a specific taste.

      As for your example of Swan Lake, I did indeed see and was endlessly impressed with a contemporary production of Swan Lake by Matthew Bourne (at Sadler’s Wells), where all Swans were male! Moreover, I invited my very traditional mother and aunt, who were quite prejudiced about any improvisations on a classical masterpiece like the Swan Lake, and they were so moved and impressed with the performance they had tears in their eyes!

      There is no good or bad art – there is art you like or dislike. It is always a matter of taste, which may be popular or unpopular. Popular taste changes radically with time. As I am sure you know, many talented artists were not recognised during their lifetime, and crowds walked out of “contemporary” at the time performances, which are now beloved “classical masterpieces”. While clearly everyone is entitled to an opinion and must be able to express it, I think in this day and age there are much more polite options of doing so than booing at the artists, which I don’t think is EVER acceptable! I think withholding of applauds is as far as it should go in terms of “expressing opinion” at a performance (which to be honest I have never done), and after a performance there is a variety of social media available to those wishing to share their opinion. I find it strange though when people take or make it personal…

      Thank you for reading my response.

      Diana

  10. RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN responded on 7 November 2014 at 8:28am Reply

    ONE of the most depressingly modish and mindlessly vacuous productions I have seen at Covent Garden in years - even worse than Due Foscari, Maria Stuarda and Manon Lescaut ... some lovely singing from Bevan, Polenzani, de Barbeyrac, but as for the sound of Franco Fagioli's male soprano, words fail me

    • lizbie responded on 7 November 2014 at 12:45pm

      It's amazing that some reviews - from all types of publication - gave it 5 stars & praised the sopranist, who was seriously miscast!

  11. James Gordon responded on 7 November 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    I saw this last night. Musically - 5 stars. Minkowski brings a period band incisiveness and clarity but we still have the ROH orchestra's wonderfully full sound. Vocal highlights for me were Elettra's last aria and, above all, the absolute stillness in the house as Sophie Bevan floated the diminuendo into the da capo of her last act aria.

    Mixed feelings about the production. The idea behind it was clear enough, if not always well executed. It acknowledged its own inadequacy early on by needing to print explanations of bits of directorial Konzept extraneous to Mozart on the surtitle screen. Even more so with the series of platitudes that confronted us on the drop curtain at the start of the concluding non-ballet.
    But I don't want to sound over-negative. This is a production that probes and encourages us to think afresh, and not always as the director thinks.

    Yes, the opera ends by regaining the home key. Of course it does. Progressive tonality was not invented till later. The Eroica ends in the home key too, but that doesn't mean it ends where it started. Time and experience have passed meanwhile and our understanding of heroism has therefore changed. Revolution before the French Revolution meant just that - coming full circle, regaining paradise. Or reinventing it. History as yet had no dialectic.

    The programme notes draw the obvious parallel with the biblical story of Jephtha. Actually this production left me feeling that the truer biblical parallel is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Unstated, perhaps, but overwhelmingly implicit. The human sacrifice ultimately is unnecessary. The gods are not so cruel. Indeed Neptune, unlike Yahweh, does not need or provide a substitute. Not that Kusej appears to believe in miracles anyway. I suspect his take on Abraham and Isaac would be Wilfred Owen's.

    Yes, power corrupts and utopias fade. That's why we need the living, life-giving, transforming power of art and of myth. Thankfully: production styles fade. Music remains. Dynamic.

    No idea what the last line of text about the age of Pisces was getting at. Anyway we're in Greece, not Rome. And the Greek for pisces is ichthus.

  12. Michael responded on 7 November 2014 at 11:12am Reply

    Fully agreed.
    We just had to leave at interlude.
    Production is an insult to Mozart and audience.
    Don't get me wrong, not that i dislike modern productions but this one was a nonsense. You have a complete right to distanciate from a classical production and give a piece a new and modern approach. But not this ugly way. Skinheads, ugly bloody sharks and plastic fish? Cmon.
    Sad for the singers, which were performing actually pretty well. (But again, production ruined it)

  13. Judith Wardle responded on 7 November 2014 at 11:30am Reply

    What an awful shame for the musicians (including Mozart). There were times last night when I just closed my eyes to listen & not be distracted by the silly production. Left at the interval. Casting a counter-tenor as Idamante was interesting but needed a production that reminded us of 18th century - so total lack of coherent thinking.

  14. matteo responded on 7 November 2014 at 12:17pm Reply

    I found the conductor much worse than the production... boring beyond limits and slow ... and the final ballet scene was really unnecessary

  15. Melanie Eskenazi responded on 7 November 2014 at 12:51pm Reply

    Quite a variance in the reviews & I'm not sure why mine (imho rather more balanced than some) is not listed, but it's at http://www.musicomh.com/classical/reviews

    • Ann O'Shaughnessy responded on 7 November 2014 at 6:15pm

      Melanie - thank you for the link to your review. It is a concise yet eloquent comment on the production.

  16. Geoff responded on 7 November 2014 at 2:26pm Reply

    Anybody else notice that this page has disappeared from ROH News (only found it by searching)? Normally they keep the Your Reaction article upfront for weeks, not hide it away five days after the first night. Wonder why...

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 7 November 2014 at 2:52pm

      Hi Geoff,

      Articles tend to 'drop' off the /news homepage as new content gets added.They may appear in the 'Most Read' section, but obviously there are no guarantees about this. I can assure you that the page has not been hidden - it's freely available on the Idomeneo homepage, in the site search and via Google. We've also been tweeting and Facebooking the link to promote it.

      Do keep the comments coming - great to have such passionate discussion about opera.

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  17. Geoff responded on 7 November 2014 at 5:22pm Reply

    Good try Chris. I have a RSS feed for ROH News - and this is still showing, for example, "Verdi’s I due Foscari live in cinemas on 27 October 2014" (surely out of date by now, November 7) but has dropped the Idomeneo Your Reaction despite it only being a few days old. This has never happened before so far as I can remember. No doubt a coincidence.

  18. Stephen Cutler responded on 8 November 2014 at 1:08pm Reply

    As someone who usually prefers tradional productions, I have to admit I quite enjoyed Idomeneo.

    Musically, I thought Minkowski was the undoubted star of the evening, with some of the most beautifully shaped Mozart conducting I have heard in a very long time. And we are so fortunate to have such a wonderful, flexible, responsive orchestra. Using a male soprano is not such a bad idea, but Fagioli's voice was not just hideous but seemed too small compared to his fellow singers.

    As for the producton I suppose you might subtitle it "Singing in the Rain." I was going to say I have never seen singers have to get so wet, but then I remembered a performance of Giulio Cesare in Copenhagen when Ptolomey had to sing in the shower. Still, although I haven't noticed the word "homoerotic" used in any of the reviews, any production that starts with fifteen minutes of a dozen almost naked young men writhing around on the stage can't be all bad. And as for those armed guards in black beating people up, people do pay money for that sort of thing, so I understand.

    Such considerations aside, the production seemed to me to work well enough. It was entertaining, which is at least one thing it should be, and I did not find it detracted at all from the music. Having revisited the video of the traditional Met production with Pavarotti, if it were a choice between the two, I think I would have to opt for the ROH for a live performance, if not for a production to live with.

  19. Janey responded on 9 November 2014 at 4:47pm Reply

    Why oh why do you feel the need to insult Mozart? What is the point?

  20. I can see some of the points raised above, however think they're a little harsh in places. We do have to experiment with new methods, styles, outlooks etc and I do feel better for having seen it.

  21. David responded on 11 November 2014 at 7:57am Reply

    Has the opera been shortened since the opening night? It was advertised as lasting 4 hours but last night's performance was only 3 and a half and we received an erratum slip informing us that there would be no interval between the first two acts. Are audiences paying to hear the same show or has it been reduced in length since the opening night?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 11 November 2014 at 10:39am

      Hi David,

      The opera hasn't been shortened since the opening night and throughout the run has been performed without an interval between Acts I and II.

      Early print advertising may have stated a four hour running time but for accurate timings, it's always best to check the website (the interval between acts I and II may have originally been included, and removed later on after print material was sent out - the website states a 3 hour 30 min running time)

      To clarify on your later comment in regards to this comment not being published, after submission comments go into moderation prior to being made 'live' by a publisher. This is to guard against spam comments by 'bots'.

      Thanks

      Chris
      ROH Content Producer

  22. David responded on 11 November 2014 at 9:34am Reply

    To add to the many comments here: I personally don't have any objection to a production where there are elements I don't immediately understand, such as the accordion or the shark - I appreciate having ideas to unpack and engaging with a production on multiple viewings. I also think Kusej had some interesting ideas, making Idomeneo more than a simplistic figure of authority and actually reminding us what ancient societies were like in practice - shaped by the presence of military rule and with discipline and punishment as prominent state features. My difficulty with this particular interpretation is just that it puts so much pressure on the libretto and music to sustain Kusej's reading - using surtitles to clarify the story is the most blatant acknowledgement of failure in this regard. And it also raises a host of basic questions: if Idomeneo is such a dictator, why doesn't he just kill Idamante immediately, or order his henchmen to do it (dictators from history have repeatedly killed close family members). And how do they know that Idamante is such a liberal ruler if they've only just arrived back on the island? Why the need for such an elaborate excuse (Neptune) when they could just kill Idamante privately and blame it on his enemies, and then re-install the old order? I wanted to like this, but when people who know the opera well feel frustrated rather than enlightened by a production, you have a problem.

    Musically this was a bit inert - Minkowski can be excellent, but it all felt quite lightweight and lacking in drama. Mozart is routinely undercast these days, the roles given to emerging singers as "safe" repertoire so we don't often hear the greats in their prime singing Mozart (baritones are a bit of an exception here). Polenzani did a good job and I also enjoyed the Arbace; Bystrom is a fine singer but doesn't really have the necessary fire for Elettra. My problems were more with the other two. Sophie Bevan strikes me as quite an ordinary talent elevated by parochial nationalism - a pleasant voice, but not especially striking. As for Fagioli, would any mezzo ever have been cast singing at this level? He can get through the role, but his voice is too small to sound heroic and the basic sound is quite unattractive and monochrome, and thins out badly at the top. All in all, this show was a missed opportunity.

  23. Gwyneth Macaulay responded on 12 November 2014 at 6:08pm Reply

    There's nothing intrinsically wrong with new/updated interpretations but this one is fatuous. I shall be looking out for Kusej in future - so as to avoid. Why do directors currently seem to have an obsession with boxes? And what was the point of the boring non-ballet at the end? it would have been far better dramatically to have cut this and end with Elettra's final powerful aria. I only stayed after the interval to hear Bystrom, Polenzani, Bevan and de Barbeyrac. Fagioli was too shrill in the higher register. In contrast, two recent new productions in the Linbury theatre were outstanding : the new Glass/Hampton opera of Kafka's The Trial, (movingly done by Music Theatre Wales) and Rossini's farce - La Scala di Seta (beautifully sung by Jette Parker Young Artists). Both at a fraction of the main house prices.

    • Dear Mr Macaulay,

      Thank you for your comments about our production of 'La Scala di Seta' that performed recently in the Linbury.

      I'm sure that this intimate little theatre will continue to play host to productions that offer an alternative to the ROH mainstage both next season and for a long time to come after it's renovation begins next year.

      And, of course, I hope to see you at the next Young Artist production!

      Greg

  24. Lizzie Forestier-Walker responded on 12 November 2014 at 10:19pm Reply

    Loved the production, costumes, set, wanted that team to have its own curtain call.

  25. Catherine responded on 16 November 2014 at 6:30pm Reply

    Minkowski conducting Mozart as if is was Puccini, without relief, smoothly and swingy when there is so much richness and diversity in this score! that was a first disappointment.
    Then we were served with some very approximate anti-dictatorship soup, in the re-written synopsis (did you notice the appalling translation and it's contempt for the original text?) and in the case you would not have picked up in the first half a shallow message was projected in your face for half an hour in the final act!
    2 storms were washed away and replaced by some allegorical plastic fish and shark...
    Fortunately Stanislas the Barbeyrac, Bystrom and Polenzani saved what was left of the Opera.
    Oooh ! I was about to forget: This opera should end with a BALLET! MR Kusej, dictatorially decided to cut off the ballet! Enough said.

  26. Mihaela Marcu responded on 17 November 2014 at 5:05am Reply

    Thank you ROH for choosing to stage Mozart’s Idomeneo ! Thank you for deciding to make history by giving Idamante’s part to a countertenor instead of a mezzo-soprano and thank you for choosing a particular countertenor, Franco Fagioli. His voice, warm, balanced, yet powerful was the main reason for me to travel across Europe, change planes, only to be able to hear him live. And he did not fail my expectations ! Thank you Mark Minkowski, Stanislas de Barbeyrac, Malin Byström, Sophie Bevan, Matthew Polenzani, Martin Kušej and to all the people involved in this project for a wonderful experience !

  27. JSGOHG responded on 17 November 2014 at 6:19pm Reply

    Does one of the Britain’s, and supposedly the world’s, best opera companies genuinely expect audience to pay to see people in ordinary clothes carrying that ugly rubber shark or fish in plastic shopping bags? That must have been a big fat joke!!

    Mr Matthew Polenzani’s and Mr Franco Fagioli’s performances were absolutely fantastic with their respective supreme voices and superior phrasing. Ms Malin Byström was dynamic and engaging, and Ms Sophie Bevan was very beautiful. All other cast members also performed to a high standard. The conductor was great. The orchestra did its best.

    NEVER try to overshadow the excellence in performance with such a poor production, again. It was an utter disrespect to musicians, and to audiences.

  28. marisa bonetto responded on 18 November 2014 at 10:51pm Reply

    Thanks a lot for this interesting production the only reason why I went to ROH for the first time and for having chosen Franco Fagioli the only 'operatic countertenor'!looking forward to see him performing a Opera by Haendel!he was brave and great!

  29. chloe baveystock responded on 19 November 2014 at 11:34pm Reply

    Could the ROH kindly empty out the bin of Oxfam rejects that pass for costumes these days? Together with a boring non set which was not improved by twiddling it about each scene, this was a dreadful production which made me close my eyes in order to concentrate on what was excellent singing in the main with a very good orchestral accompaniment Such a pity when a visit to the ROH should be something special. I am rapidly losing heart ...

  30. Andrew Stafford responded on 20 November 2014 at 9:13am Reply

    I try to go to everything at Covent Garden. Its my passion int he same way some people play golf. There are some interesting comaparisons too, , not every production is a hole in one nor does every production have the backdrop of the Old Course at St Andrews. some even end up in the Bunker but that's nbo reason to club the Director. Every Production should be a "new game" not a replay of past show. I don't know if i liked it or not but it was certainly the most memorable production I've seen and anything that keeps the memorey of the opera alive in my head is a good thing. Bravi - keep up the excelent work and ignore the minority who fgeel the need to be so venomous. The booing: Its a good thing. At least they aren't throwing rotten tomatoes.

  31. raymond wakefield responded on 20 November 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

    Excellent singing, but did not like Fagioli's voice. Would have preferred a tenor. The production was terrible, one of the worst I have ever seen, an insult to the singers and composer. Whoever it is at the ROH who is commissioning these dreadful productions, which seem to be more frequent should be dumped before any more damage is done to its reputation

  32. Ruby Brennan responded on 24 November 2014 at 7:13pm Reply

    I left at the interval also.The singing was beautiful but I thought it was ridiculous to ask such wonderful voices to compete with the rain .Many audience members were looking away from the stage so the singing would not be diminished by the ugliness of the production.The fish wrapped in paper made me laugh out loud and was the deciding factor for me to leave early.I also agree re more information being given regarding these productions before we book .If I had realised that the production would actually detract from the beauty of the music I wouldn't have booked..We seem to have a lot more of these controversial productions since Mr Holten took over at the ROH. Why detract from the main focus of an opera?I go to the opera to be uplifted not downcast !

  33. Ninak responded on 25 November 2014 at 11:59am Reply

    THE WORST PRODUCTION I'VE EVER WITNESSED AT THE ROH. Kušej sucked all the life out of an ultimately hopeful story and really quite beautiful score. Gratuitously bleak, clichéd, and completely off the mark---this was not a reinterpretation but a complete rewriting of Mozart's opera, and for what? To deliver a wholly depressing message that was completely devoid of any deeper political or moral statement. Too unintelligent to be subversive, it was just a happy ending turned sad for no good reason.

  34. Brendan Rossiter responded on 25 January 2015 at 9:17pm Reply

    I have just seen this Idomeneo production at Opera de Lyon and I thought it was superb!! OK it played a little fast and loose with the story but it grabbed my attention for three and a half hours, most enjoyable!

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