Friday, March 27, 2009


I should probably write about Das Roq Opera, just because Aaron's pretending to be modest, but conveniently overlooking the fact that he's plugging it every morning on air. Not without reason, though – it's the best thing I've seen at the Dunedin Fringe so far. So here's a collection of my unformed impressions.

It's a 'what-if' conversation spun out of control, a rock (sorry, roq) opera fusing digital art, song, dance, techno melodrama and Greek myth, with hip-hop narration of grandiose proportions, all compressed into just over an hour. Oh, and there's a guy in amazing skin-tight gold pants made up in an odd mix of silent film eyeliner and vaguely Bowie-like Egyptian kohl. So, you know, bonus.

Hitting the Dunedin Fringe square in the face with an open palm, Das Roq Opera opened last night to a sell-out crowd at the Globe Theatre. It starts off, as all the great rock operas do, with a silent film-style montage, which results in a girl being locked in a cellar by her over-protective and Teutonic-tempered father. (Unable to resist a dig at the ODT, I'll just note that the Fritzl parallel had their staff frantically googling DRO to see which real newspapers in real cities had mentioned it.) Riffing on the Medusa myth, there's a voyage, several set-piece scenes with flawless (flawless!) digital sets and a live band accompanying the whole thing. Electro-funk creeps in on the action whenever it can; there's a 'Nights in White Satin' solo for no apparent reason; and there's not a hint of seriousness about the whole thing – as Hannah Gould's dance number at the end would suggest. It's just good, slightly unclean, all-singing, all-dancing operatica. And based on just a scant paragraph in the Fringe line-up, there was a full audience. Granted, we're talking about the Globe, but still.

There were people sitting on the floor in front of me (I would have offered my seat to one of them, but I'd got there early for a reason), I saw a small crowd turned away at the door after the house was full, and everyone loved the show. Kudos to the band, kudos to the dancers (especially Leigh, who danced up a fucking storm), and kudos to all the singers. Likewise to Pip Walls, the director / producer and of course, the writer – Henry Feltham.

There's a recorded interview (courtesy of RDU) with Feltham here, if you're wondering who would script such a preposterous idea. Mac users should force-stop the unresponsive scripts on the page, and anyone should ignore almost every question/comment from the interviewer, who keeps coming back to the Fritzl angle. (All that's over in the first ten minutes of the show, anyway.)

But damn, it was cool. It's showing tonight and tomorrow (Fri and Sat) at 9.30pm – doors opening at 9.00pm if you want to beat the others to a seat – and there's even a double-header on Saturday night - a Late Night Half Drunk Rock Opera Bonus Level, with doors opening at 10.30pm (show starts at 11pm). And in my humble estimation, it'd be arguably more entertaining with a bottle of wine in hand, ready for covert swigging every ten minutes.

Check out the ticket info at, or just laugh at it here. Regular tickets are $10 – cool. Concession tickets are $10 – oh...kay. And if you're in a group of six or more? Well, no-one really cares. It's still $10 each. That's just how they roll. And, presumably, roq.

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