Motorhead : London Royal Opera House

Well topple my titfer and spank me 'til I cry for matron, if this isn't the queerest commotion ever to rattle this grand old pile!...

Well topple my titfer and spank me ’til I cry for matron, if this isn’t the queerest commotion ever to rattle this grand old pile! Not since the National Ballet sculpted a symphony of pirouettes around the complete works of Einsterzende Neubauten (during which, lest we forget, fifteen of the country’s finest ballerinas died from ‘bad vibes’) has the high arts society seen the like of the Royal Opera’s new production of [a]Motorhead[/a].

Convention be damned, is the director’s cry! [a]Motorhead[/a] la avante garde! Indeed, rehearsals must have been so strained that the conductor and orchestra haven’t even bothered to show up, forcing the cast to play the entire book on the crudest of musical contraptions. And what a cast! The percussionist is a troll of more gruesome hue than any beast that crawled from Hades in La Traviata! On guitar ‘duties’ is some manner of traveling hobbit creature. And, while this reviewer has seen many an unsightly actress playing Brunhilde in his time, there has surely been none so surly as madame ‘Lemmy’. The very idea that the tragic Siegfried could lose his heart to such a warty, unplucked gargoyle of a woman – and clad in so tight a cod-piece as to surely asphyxiate her rectum – stretches credibility further than the Tchaikovsky season wherein the Birmingham Symphonic cast Lisa from Steps as the dying swan.

Now, heaven knows, one has never been particularly adroit at following plots – that nineteenth week of Francesco Rossi’s Faust, for example, left one in a right old tizzy, continuity-wise – but, following a lively, self-explanatory prologue entitled ‘We Are Motörhead’, [a]Motorhead[/a] becomes a prickly kernel to unravel. There’s clearly some sort of war going on (the scene titles provide the clues: ‘Civil War’, ‘Over The Top’, ‘Damage Case’), during which our protagonist, one ‘Doctor Rock’, escapes to ‘Brazil’ where he is ‘Killed By Death’. Then, ultimately, the conflict is settled over some kind of apocalyptic game of cards. But the intricacies of this brutal Wagnerian epic are nigh on impossible to ascertain due to two main factors. Firstly, the cast insist on performing the score with such violent velocity and ferocious volume as to blow one’s monocle clear out of one’s back passage! And secondly, madame ‘Lemmy’ appears to be performing her dying aria during every scene: and this is an aria, lupine in tone and timbre, depicting not so much the sweeping of our heroine to Valhalla on the golden chariot of the Valkyries as her being mangled, testes first, by a psychopathic lawnmower.

And yet, for all the messy conflagration, tuxedo-soiling ‘axe skills’ and profuse bleeding from the ears, tonight’s exhilarating performance of [a]Motorhead[/a] proves to be the most fun since one attended the last night of the Proms with a pack of frisky fillies from St Magdelene’s and all the heroin a generous trust fund can purchase. A good four months too short it may be but, should the ROH ever employ a more eye-pleasing leading lady, [a]Motorhead[/a] will run a dozen Michaelmasses! Roggenfuggenrowl, as the plebians appear to be squawking from the cheap seats.

The Rt. Hon. Mark ‘Binkie’ Beaumont, Esq.