STAGENOISE Review – Cloudstreet (the opera)

By Diana Simmonds Review Posted on May 13 2016

CLOUDSTREET, State Opera SA with Adelaide Festival Centre at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, 12-21 May 2016.

The much loved Tim Winton classic novel from 1992 was first adapted for the stage by Sydney’s Company B Belvoir, then as a mini-series for cable TV and now, in the hands of the remarkable Gale Edwards and five long years in the making, Cloudstreet the opera is an extraordinary achievement.

It began as a twinkle of songs in the eye of composer-legal eagle George Palmer. Since falling into the hands of theatre magician Edwards and – finally – the enabling embrace of SOSA and its boss and conductor Timothy Sexton, it has turned into a fully sung, intensely dramatic, gloriously coherent retelling of the sprawling, complex Winton tale of two families and their multiple catastrophes and small joys.

The Lamb and Pickles tribes – each featuring a set of parents and various brats – are as much of their times (the 1940s) as they are timeless. Fish Lamb (Nicholas Jones) is the adored and charismatic younger son whose partial recovery after a near-drowning puts him in a limbo land. He’s dismissed as a “retard” by the earthbound and, by the spirits he encounters, as a conduit and the only one who can see Bob Crab (Don Bemrose) the indigenous ghost-guide to the past.

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