Review: La Bohème @ Cock Tavern Theatre

By Nicolas Chinardet Last edited 101 months ago
Review: La Bohème @ Cock Tavern Theatre

If you are one of those people whom the sound of the word "opera" sends to sleep more surely than washing down a box of Valium with a pint of camomile, the version of Puccini's La Bohème currently playing at the Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn may be just what the doctor would order.

La Bohème is possibly one of the most accessible operas there is but this production with its irreverent new translation by Robin Norton-Hale takes away all possible cobwebs but getting the audience right in the middle of the action.

The tragic lovestory of the consumptive Mimi and the jealous Rodolfo has been migrated from its 19th century Paris garret to the digs of a bunch of famished arty men in 21st century Kilburn. An open window complacently lets in police sirens and careering buses that weave their sounds with that of the singers. The language can be colourful and even Jedward and Gordon Brown get a name-check.Act 2, normally set in Café Momus in the popular Quartier Latin, takes place in the Cock Tavern itself, complete with heckling plants and bewildered regulars. While this inventive staging does indeed make the action more real and exciting, it sadly doesn't quite work as the singing (and the words) gets drowned in the general bustling.The troupe has a revolving cast so we can't vouch for all the performances but the standards on the press night were generally very high. Rosalind Coad (our Mimi) is to be particularly celebrated for the beauty of her singing. A special mention must be made of Michael Davis (Marcello) who was ill that night but proved a real trooper, and delivered the goods with panache.The purists may not approve of this treatment but the evening is highly enjoyable and could prove a good introduction to opera for someone feeling shy of the more established institutions.La Bohème is at the Cock Tavern until 23 January. Tuesday to Sunday. Tickets £15/ £10 concessions. £5 tickets available.

Last Updated 14 December 2009

charles dickens london

'Puccini's La Bohème currently playing at the Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn' well yes it does have a certain ring to it. How can I resist after such a stunning review? Charles Dickens couldn't imbibe, of course, he was long gone before the masterpiece appeared- he didn't get further with music than A Christmas Carol. I'm not pure and I am financially shy of the established institutions, so off I go- hope they serve a good grappa (or should it be cognac)?


Boheme is glorious and the melodies still shine through despite any updating or modish staging. The version at Holland Park this summer was sublime. Upstairs at the Cock Tavern surely guarantees an authentic garrett setting, and if there are still seats in January I'll look forward to it.

Not sure I can say the same as I set off tonight for 'Legally Blonde: The Musical'. But at least it shows how we diligent Londonist reviewers cover both ends of the spectrum :-)


The show has been extended to the 20th February


No-one told us there were more tickets than seats. Its not really suitable for anyone over forty unless they have strong elbows. We would have liked to see it but fighting up the stairs and for a seat is not our idea of a fun night out