The Devil Inside
Scottish Opera & Music Theatre Wales
World premiere, 2016 Theatre Royal Glasgow , Uk Tour & Tapestry Opera-Toronto
Nominated for Outstanding Achievement in opera, UK Theatre Awards 2016
Composer, Stuart MacRae / Libretto, Louise Welsh / Conductor, Michael Rafferty / Director, Matthew Richardson / Lighting, Ace McCarron / photographers:©Bill Cooper
Matthew Richardson’s production, designed by Samal Blak, makes a virtue of simplicity while underlining the creepiness of the tale. Crucially, it presents an unforgettable visualisation of the lurid, malevolently populated green bottle, whose sonic counterpart proves as memorable in MacRae’s imaginative score.
The Guardian, George Hall
…clever monochrome and shadow-play design by Samal Blak…in director Matthew Richardson’s production, which cleverly exists as much in the mind’s eye as is made literal on stage….As the Rorschach blots of the second act set suggest, there are layers of psychological mystery explored, but at its simplest this is a scary parable of the evils of greed and how the lure of something-for-nothing brings out the worst in everyone. Lottery monies were, significantly, not involved in its creation.
The Herald, Keith Bruce
It is one of the most interesting, well sung and well produced pieces of opera that has been seen on the Scottish stage for quite a few years.
…Director Matthew Richardson has worked well with designer Samal Blak and Lighting Designer Ace McCarron to conjure up from the smallest details on a black, white and grey stage a whole world in which the action takes place. This is a confident production which never loses its way…..This is a brilliant new work that makes you think. It is spine tingling opera that everyone involved with can be supremely proud of.
Opera Britannia, Kelvin Holdsworth
Samal Blak’s sparse monochromatic set, using shadowplay and arty inkblots all sensitively lit by Ace McCarron, underlined the simplicity of a terrible story compellingly told.
Bachtrack, David Smythe
Minimal but effective scenery(designs by Samal Blak)
The Times, Richard Morrison
The financial times, Richard Fairman
The bottle itself, glowing luminously in shades of green, is a stroke of genius from the props department.
The list, Carol Main
A luminous green genie – in Samal Blak’s clean-lined, minimalist design – wreaks havoc from within its glass bottle.
The observer, Fiona Maddocks
An exemplary staging, directed and designed with economy and clarity by Matthew Richardson and Samal Blak.
The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen
Samal Blak‘s restrained designs have visual redolences that can be discomfiting even when they’re not wholly tangible, and the lighting by Ace McCarron is comparably sinister. As for the bottle, a cunning creation in its own right, one glance is enough to tell you it’s bad news. Stay away from it – but not from this thrilling, chilling new opera.
Whatsonstage, Mark Valencia
Director Matthew Richardson and Designer Samal Blak utilize shadow puppetry upon a sleek, minimalist set to maximum effect. The four person cast have crystal clear diction, alongside excellent stage presence. It all adds up to an exquisite work of storytelling.
British Theatre Guide, Louise Lewis
Hats off, too, to Matthew Richardson’s production which, with Samal Blak’s designs, tells the story clearly and with the minimum economy of means.
Seen and Heard international,Simon Thompson
There’s enough ingenuity to keep it all afloat in Matthew Richardson’s production and Samal Blak’s designs, joining with Ace McCarron’s spot-on lighting to make a virtue of economy… Stars light up the creepy mansion; curtains and double bed become stained with a dark, evil-butterfly design and black finally seeps downwards in a threat to kill off the light. Repetitions, like the two plane journeys, point up the symmetry of the dramatic shape.
The arts desk, David Nice
Matthew Richardson’s production and Samal Blak’s designs were imaginatively minimal, throwing focus on the performers and making us care for the characters. Blak’s designs made striking use of projection, with a minimum of props.
….. this was a vividly gripping evening of opera which certainly made me look forward to more.
The resourceful production from Matthew Richardson and his team left nothing to be desired. So much can be done with intelligent direction, designs, and props, that attention was focused where it should be: upon what emerged as a new and important re-telling of an old, powerful tale.
Boulezian, Mark Berry
blessed with a scenic design that mirrors Louise Welsh’s austere libretto…..Timeless and abstract, it brings out opera’s anti-naturalism and allows meditation on the consequences of desire.
The Stage,Gareth K Vile
Superb diction and clever stage effects that cost as little as the final price of the bottle in comparison to those that self-indulgent directors sometimes inflict on audiences at the country’s most prestigious opera houses.
The bottle itself, shining occasionally with green malevolence, is a central feature, and I loved the lowering of darkness at the rear of the set before final act of self-sacrifice. Excellent direction and dramaturgy by Matthew Richardson, with designs by Samal Blak, helps this opera to provide a lesson not only in the desires that compel us, but the ability of human nature to confront them.
The set was an utter joy. [Design, Samal Blak and Lighting, Ace McCarron]. A very simple concept, but the use of projection, silhouette and shadow throughout were superb. The final wall of white ‘smoke’ descending and revealing more and more black as the scene progressed mirroring exactly the moods and dynamics of performers and music was not only inspired but excellently done. I also loved the ‘invisible’ black Kabuki scene-changers.
Put all of this together with some very solid and sensible directing by Matthew Richardson, and you have a very compelling and grippingly intense if rather dark masterpiece!
northwestend.co.uk, Mark Dee
Scenically the opera is a triumph. Matthew Richardson’s direction is fast-paced yet flexible in its delineating of character and circumstance, abetted in both respects by Samal Blak’s starkly immediate sets
Arcana, Richard Whitehouse
Samal Blak’s minimalist designs are a constant prompt to the audience’s imagination with witty and telling details…
The Reviewers Hub, Ron Simpson