On Recs Radar: LA BOHÈME at The King’s Head

LA BOHÈME is getting a Queer contemporary reworking of Puccini’s soaring opera under the direction of the wonderful Mark Ravenhill.

Puccini’s tragic love story, La Bohème, is one of the best-known and most-adored operas. Even if you’ve never seen an opera in your life, La Bohème has relentlessly seeped into popular culture. Both the musical Rent and the movie, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, both riff on the Italian masterpiece’s tragic themes. And the score of the beautiful 1987 romantic comedy, Moonstruck, taken from Puccini’s work provides the emotional heart of the film.

So The Recs was more than intrigued to see that the King’s Head Theatre was to perform a new interpretation of this opera.

Promising a Queer contemporary reinvention of Puccini’s classic opera, LA BOHÈME, it will add a new English libretto originally conceived by David Eaton and Adam Spreadbury-Maher and reworked by Philip Lee and David Eaton to Puccini’s score. In another reframing, it relocates the loves and lives of struggling artists from the original Paris to London. 

The synopsis of this tempting new production reads: “Penniless writer Robin struggles to monetise his online writing but a Grindr hookup with a Liberty perfume salesman- known to his friends as Mimi -leads to unexpected blossoming of romantic passion.  Meanwhile Robin’s flatmate, Marcus pursues an on/off relationship with sometime model Marissa who is torn between the idealism of loving an artist and the material possibilities offered by a hedge fund manager.  As a year passes from one Christmas to the next, the four friends struggle to reconcile love with artistic aspiration and the need to pay the bills.”

For a musical juggernaut that has been repeatedly refashioned across the years, we’re thrilled that this new take will forsake the grandeur of the gilded opera houses for the up-close, personal and the more economically-challenged charms of the King’s Head. 

This La Bohème will star Matthew Kellett as Marcus, Philip Lee as Mimi, Grace Nyandoro as Marissa and Daniel Koek as Robin.

Add into the mix, the frankly brilliant Mark Ravenhill (he of Shopping and Fucking and Mother Clap’s Molly House to name but two) will be directing. He has said: “Our version of La Bohème is the story of a group of friends who started partying in the 1990s.  As they reach middle age, they are faced with the possibility that now may be the time to sell out and settle down.  But romantic passion, sexual desire and the hedonistic pleasures of partying remain as strong as ever.  It’s exciting to honour the overwhelming romantic beauty of Puccini’s score with his eye for telling social detail in this new version.”

Sold. Our tiny hand will be busy booking tickets for this must-see production. 

LA BOHÈME - The King's Head Theatre



26 APRIL – 28 MAY 2022

Book Tickets