The return of Monkey

Monkey, Journey to the West I was up in Manchester this week and saw the theatre where a new opera called Monkey, journey to the west is showing (more here). Had I known in advance, I would have tried to get tickets, Monkey being one of my favourite TV shows from childhood; I used to watch the adventures of Monkey, Pigsy and comrades avidly. The story itself of Monkey itself is a very old story of origins, with lots to be learnt throughout (but with plenty of martial arts along the way!). The music for this opera version was composed by Damon Albarn (yes, that Damon Albarn of Blur and more recently Gorillaz) and from what I’ve heard on the Alan Yentob documentary the other night, sounds amazing. What’s really mad is that Damon apparently knows no Mandarin and had never composed an opera before so had a rather, erm, ‘novel’ approach to the lyrics and also to the musical composition, involving a communist five-pointed star… The artistic director is Jamie Hewlett (co-creator of Tank Girl) and his style is perfect for this update of what is a really old Chinese story, portrayed using a mixture of live action and animation, telling tales of fantastic myth and legend.

The music review by Alfred Hickling in Guardian Unlimited wasn’t great but the review by Kitty Empire in the Observer was much more positive. There’s some video from the BBC here.