Compagnie Les Grooms, The Threepenny Ring Cycle

Review in Issue 15-4 | Winter 2003

Les Grooms brought their decon structed but respectful condensed version of Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle to The Prospect, the bucolic environs of an old pumping station overlooking the Wye Valley. The audience were met by the performers, briefed on the story and the parts the actor/musicians were playing, then conducted to their places under the canvas tent on either side of a ribbon which represented the Rhine. Aficionados of the company’s promenade production of the “Magic (Tragic) Flute would recognise from this opening the characteristic style of the company: their candour with the audience and the absurdist, rough comedic theatrics.

Puppetry. models of Valhalla, slapstick, and anachronisms joyfully abound. The actors regularly tell us how much time would have passed in the original 16-hour operas as they distil the action to 90 minutes. But the company are fine musicians and singers who preserve the well-known sections of the four operas and treat us to virtuoso musicianship and opera rendition.

This is not a parody of the Ring, but a celebration - we were treated to a theatrical coup worthy of any production of the Ring. The audience are led out of the tent to follow Siegfried’s funeral procession around the garden, with majestic views of the valley below at twilight. With serendipity, the Twilight of the Gods is enacted before our eyes. The tent collapses with the cast underneath, representing the destruction of Valhalla. And the tent then transforms into the Rhine, receiving the ring back again and reprising the Rhinemaiden puppets from the beginning. We witness renewal coming from destruction. We have been moved and entertained - an event to grace any international festival.

Presenting Artists
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-4
p. 27