Skip to main content

9th March 2022

Déjà review: ALICIA – an immersive rock opera

Jessica Hamilton deja reviews ALICIA – An Immersive Rock Opera at Manchester Cathedral
Déjà review: ALICIA – an immersive rock opera
Photo: Beyond Theatre.

Written by Jessica Hamilton.

On a peculiar girls’ night out, which started in The Moon Under Water (Wetherspoons), I found myself in Manchester Cathedral, watching a rock opera about a Witch named Alicia. I wasn’t sure if it was the three blue lagoons that I drank shortly beforehand, but I hadn’t a clue what was going on. It was only with the help of the programme that I discovered the simple premise which was Love and Hate. It wasn’t long into the performance that I realised I leaned towards the latter.

The ambivalent theme ran throughout the show, however, I did not feel as though any character even remotely embodied the passion it takes to both love and hate. The two lovers appeared less star-crossed and more forced together at a Year Six school disco.

I admit, I may have set my expectations too high. After rewatching American Horror Story: Coven twice during Lockdown, I thought anything involving Witches would be interesting. Yet, as the show progressed, so did my disappointment.

The soundtrack appeared promising, beginning with a captivating cover of Donavan’s ‘Season of the Witch’. I was initially excited and thought that more powerful renditions were to come. However, what actually followed was a confusing compilation of songs which failed to enhance the plot, leaving the audience feeling as though they may have stepped into a karaoke bar in the 1970s.

I can’t deny any of the singers’ abilities, and the actors were clearly professionally trained. Yet, there was a lack of substance to their performances. The emphasis on the operatic voices meant that the depth and soul of the original music was missing, and I hated having to listen to the butchering of three Nina Simone songs.

The setting of the beautiful Manchester Cathedral could have made for a brilliant performance. The lighting and special effects were ostensibly impressive, creating an eerie and exhilarating atmosphere. Yet, in relation to the story, I found these quite predictable; the red flashing lights were too often used to indicate the anger of the characters. I found the choice less profound and more epilepsy-inducing.

Instead of appreciating the performance, I found myself distracted by the questionable costume and props included. During the recital of one of my favourite Fleetwood Mac songs, I was preoccupied on the combination of the actor’s chosen decision of skinny jeans and flip-flops, wondering if this was a popular fashion choice in the 1600s.

If it’s any consolation, ALICIA did initiate a lot of (confused) conversation in the group I was with.

More Coverage

Live at The Fête of Britain review: A humorous address of the modern world

Uniting art, comedy, politics and activism, Live at The Fête of Britain provoked an important discussion about the most pressing issues of our time

UMMTS’ Timey Wimey review: A Doctor Whosical

Even if you are not a Whovian the UMMTS’ production will take you on a mesmerising journey through the most iconic features of the Whoniverse

Blue Beard review: Problematic and distasteful plastic feminism

In production with Wise Children theatre company, Emma Rice’s new adaptation of Blue Beard uses circus tricks, smoke, and mirrors to dance around the genuine issues it is trying to tackle

Rocky Horror Show review: The show that never disappoints

Be a feather-bowered spectator to the unravelling secrets of the sweet transvestites from Transexual, Transylvania.