Stephen Wadsworth’s production continues to tread a precarious line between prosaic realism and poetic illusion. The flying mermaids look like acrobatic women hung on wires, no more, no less. The dragon resembles a silly old puppet. The real horse, underemployed, seems shy. The man in the bear-suit enjoys programme credit (also applause). The magic fire ignites on cue like a series of burners on a kitchen stove. Gods, giants, dwarfs and mortals all appear virtually the same size, physical as well as metaphysical, though their interactions are tellingly motivated. Thomas Lynch’s picturesque sets, recycled in a vain attempt to suggest changing locales, force the action to the front of stage. In the process they enhance acoustic immediacy but cramp movement.
The proper staging of the Ring has been a perennial problem and circle-squaring exercise since Wagner's time, his own 1876 staging of the tetralogy, by his own admission, largely a failure, and today, even with our highly sophisticated stage machinery and techniques, it seems no closer to a truly satisfactory solution than it was back then.
Even though by no stretch of the terms are we either a stage designer or stage director, we attempted to suggest in general terms a satisfactory solution to the seemingly intractable problem in an S&F post of April 2005 ("Staging Wagner's Music-Dramas") the link to which post is now up on our right sidebar as our new Featured Past Post.