Howling a triumph at St. John's Smith Square

A fantastic review for Howling with the Anstieg Symphony Orchestra at St. John’s, Smith Square:

‘Maxwell Davies’ challenging Eight Songs for a Mad King brought the composer to public attention in 1969. A portrayal of George III at the height of his madness, it requires technical skill and a can-do approach from the players, as well as a bravura performance from the singer – both of which it received. From the get-go the music is chaotic yet exacting, but the six instrumentalists held their nerve through the opening gradual mis-match of beats in ‘The Sentry’, the virtuosic string lines and demented harpsichord riffs in ‘The Country Walk’, through to the howling king being bass-drummed off the stage in ‘The Review’. Thomas Bennett owned the stage in his role as George, and brought not only a masterly vocal talent to the part (ranging from falsetto screams to throaty growls) but some excellent acting; William Ashford’s minimal-yet-effective production required Bennett to engage with the audience, attempt to catch fish, and don a pink feather boa and sunglasses, all of which he worked deftly into the performance – the latter (to deliver the vampy foxtrot section of ‘Country Dance’) adding a wittily camp note to the king’s ravings.’
Barry Creasy, Music OMH

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Tom Bennett