Treemonisha Greenwich Theatre 13 June

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Treemonisha's supposed parents

And so to Greenwich for a production of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha by Pegasus Opera.  I remember it as a story on Jackanory about 1970.   And it’s simple enough.  We are on a plantation in the American South sometime after the supposed end of slavery.  Wicked conjurors are deceiving the locals.  Treemonisha tells them to behave.  Monisha, supposed to be Treemonisha’s mother, says that she miraculously found her in a tree, which is why to she is called Treemonisha.  TM has also received an education (courtesy of a white lady), unlike anyone else around.  The wicked conjurors capture TM and prepare to throw her off a cliff.  TM’s friends capture them and prepare to punish them.  TM tells them that two wrongs do not make a right.  So in recognition of her wisdom and learning they make her their leader.

Well, it can’t be an opera–where music and drama fuse together–since there is no drama.  As for the music, I thought that Monisha’s number The Sacred Tree was nicely Italianate, and there was a nice ragtime number to finish with.  A lot of the rest was very forgettable.

Among the performers, Maureen Braithwaite as Monisha was good, and I could generally make out her words; and I liked Rodney Clarke as Parson Alltalk.  Donna Bateman as Treemonisha was squally, and I often had problems with her diction.  Bernard Abervandana as her rescuer, Remus, was very strained of voice and also rather flat I thought.  The cast were to be found standing still and waiting for the next number rather too often, given that they had by now been on the road with this show to quite a few places (including Middlesbrough).

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