'BARE: A POP OPERA': Theatre Review by Andrea Holstein
King’s Players’ musical this season is bare: A Pop Opera written by John Hartmere Jr. and Daman Intrabartolo. The Priest (Benjamin Braz) delivers the line “Don’t question too much and you’ll get along fine” halfway through Act 2, but this line covers the general theme of this tragic coming-of-age piece. bare follows a group of Catholic boarding school seniors who are trying to explore their sexuality within the confines of their religion. This journey from adolescence to adulthood is further challenged by secrecy, drug use, and homophobia, among other social issues.
The first thing that struck me about bare actually occurred before the show started. I opened my programme only to be confronted with the line “36 songs.” And no, that wasn’t a typo—the entirety of the narrative was communicated in 36 brilliantly done songs. The actors successfully carried us through the narrative with songs of tender love and affection, raw passion, pain, desire, suffering, confusion—an entire rollercoaster of the spectrum of adolescent emotion. Central to the plot of bare is a love-triangle between Peter (Stephen Ingram), Jason (Kurtis Whittle), and Ivy (Stephanie Masden). The excellent chemistry between Stephen and Kurtis only made the complicated relationship of their characters that much more heart wrenching to watch. Both of these actors sang with such raw passion—it was impossible to listen to them maintain the pain their characters felt in their speaking and singing voices and not feel something. Kurtis did a wonderful job communicating Jason’s frustration in “Ever After,” seamlessly transitioning between speaking, shouting, and singing. Peter’s own frustration at his situation is beautifully contrasted with his mother’s (Christine Rabey) denial of reality in “See Me.”
The character of Ivy functions primarily as a personification of the obstacles that Peter and Jason’s relationship face. As a result, Ivy’s plotline is equally tragic, as she also has to find her place in the world of bare. This dilemma is explored through “All Grown Up,” where the set is split betw