Ophaboom, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

In their tenth anniversary year, Ophaboom have still to develop a strong base of support in London, where the company is based. This is surprising when you consider that they have appeared at so many festivals around the world. They are a hard-working and intrepid group who are prepared to tackle audiences in barns and town squares and will perform in French when necessary, although their skilful command of commedia dell’arte easily transcends language barriers.

This performance of The Hunchback of Notre Dame at Camden People’s Theatre is part of an attempt to redress the relative lack of opportunity to catch them in the capital. The venue is intimate, friendly and well suited to their work. Hunchback adapts well to the commedia dell’arte treatment – able to move quickly through the themes of piousness, rejection, lasciviousness and true love as the multitude of half-masked characters whiz you deftly through the plot. This is fuelled by lashings of ludicrous comic conceptions, including two gargoyles named Victor and Hugo.

Sometimes I found myself laughing in disbelief at the cheap gags and ridiculous attitudes of the characters. I especially liked the lewd, voyeuristic cardinal and the amorous exploits of a very vain captain. This contrasted well with the tragic love of the Hunchback for Esmerelda, whose initial appearance of awkward vulnerability provided a good counterpoint for the knockabout comedy. The show has laughs and pathos but doesn’t quite manage to deliver the final goods of tragic realisation.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 26