facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

The Magic Flute

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

For the second of its two shows at the Young Vic this Christmas season South African company Isango/Portobello presents a vibrant and uplifting version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, with the music played on marimbas and the lyrics sung by a company of 30 singers, threaded together with the distinct pulse of black South African soul. Caroline Bishop attended the first night.

Mark Dornford-May’s production is a gloriously happy one. From the opening moments the whole company of singers and marimba-players have wide grins on their faces, revelling in the music they are creating on stage. They move in time to a rhythm that wouldn’t normally be associated with Mozart, yet somehow fits gloriously with the classic music that is here translated into a new form by the tone and the rhythm of the marimba.

Singing the story of Tamino – who is charged with rescuing Pamina from Sarastro by her mother, the Queen of the Night – is a group of talented singers who bring humour, sympathy and darkness to their roles. Pauline Malefane as the Queen of the Night fills the stage with her brooding, ominous presence, Medusa-like hair and powerful voice; Mhlekazi Andy Mosiea and Philisa Sibeko are both sweet and tough as the young lovers who endure trials together; Simphiwe Mayeki is a regal, wise Sarastro; and Zamile Gantana a wonderfully rotund and comical Papageno, Tamino’s friend and companion.

Added to these individual talents is the cumulative voice of the whole company, collectively infusing the production with a unique style, aided by the colourful and quirky costumes. The three spirits who help Tamino and Papageno in their quest are alternately dressed in black gowns, baby doll outfits and sixties-style suits as they pop up to sing their advice. Here, and throughout the production, the way in which Mozart’s lyrics have been altered adds a jaunty humour – a highlight being Papageno’s introduction to his female alter-ego, Papagena.

Fundamentally though, the production retains the same classic story of love triumphing over evil, which is only enhanced, not impeded, by the style in which it is translated here. In this feelgood show, which oozes warmth and happiness, the smiles on the faces of the cast are infectious.

The Magic Flute runs in repertoire with A Christmas Carol until 19 January.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.