Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Captivated by Frolics and Finesse; OPERA Les Miserables / Pimlico Opera HMP Wandsworth

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Captivated by Frolics and Finesse; OPERA Les Miserables / Pimlico Opera HMP Wandsworth

Article excerpt

Byline: NICK KIMBERLEY

I KNEW our prisons were crowded, but it was a shock to see people queuing to get into Wandsworth Prison. It turned out that the audience for Pimlico Opera's latest prison show was being "processed", which included the request to put all drugs and weapons into a locker before the performance. It gave us a hint of the surveillance that rules prison life.

Thanks to Wasfi Kani, its founder, Pimlico Opera has been working in prisons since 1990, staging musicals with a mix of inmates and professionals. The choice of shows (West Side Story, Guys and Dolls) is carefully made to provide ample opportunity for noisy ensembles, with just a hint of lawlessness in the plot to undercut the circumstances.

So it is with Les Miserables, and the prisoners respond with abundant energy and no little finesse. Because the show has been put together in just six weeks, raw enthusiasm has not been dulled by endless preparation, although there is no lack of coordination and timing. …

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