The first thing to get straight about Grindr: The Opera at Above The Stag is that it’s not an opera. Apart from a burst of Latin in the opening scene, this is a fast-paced modern musical, a fantasy set in the world of the hook up app, a world controlled by an ancient god called Grindr.
Grindr: The Opera is light on story, but strong on everything else; there’s more than a feel of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to this tale of technology, love and lust. An impressive cast is led by Christian Lunn in the title role, who plays Grindr with all the delicious camp of a Disney villain – think Ursula or Maleficent with Bladerunner inspired make up – and is assisted by two naughty minions who act as a Greek chorus throughout the show.
We meet four single guys, each different and each looking for something from the app. During the course of the show we see how their experiences play out, leading to a fairly operatic – in the dramatic sense – meeting of all four as the climax of the play. All the cast have excellent voices and all give strong performances that mix comedy with pathos. The visually stunning stage set is a mix of The Matrix and the mythical image of the Underworld, which houses not only our entry into the online world but also the band.
The music in the show is consistently strong, ranging from uplifting pop to flashes of Gilbert and Sullivan, to more dramatic musical fare. The melodies are strong and if they weren’t singing about rimming or fellatio some of these songs could be in a Disney musical.
Grindr: The Opera is filthy and funny, but also moving and dramatic with a great script by Erik Ramsom that zips and sparkles, and a lightness of touch by director Andrew Beckett that makes great use of the cast and staging. Sign up now you won’t be disappointed. Dave Cross