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Review: Quito Martin Wesley-Smith November 1994

  • Alan Holley
  • Source: Manly Daily 18 Novemeber 1994

As presented bY the Sydney Metropolitan Opera, Quito, the new collaboration
between brothers composer Martin and writer Peter Weslev-Smith, is an amalgam
of manY elements, only some of which are musical.

Television documentary, enlarged and computer-altered photographs and prerecorded
electronic music alternate and combine with puppetry and unaccompanied singing
in this crossmedia endeavor. These are the ingredients which have served Wesley-
Smith well in previous politically motivated works.

The latest production is a partially successful attempt at marrying the problems of
Quito, a schizophrenic who committed suicide after a violent encounter with
Australian police, and the Indonesian invasion of Timor.

Quito is splendidly portrayed by an all-too-human puppet animated by members of
the cast, and while everyone in the Song Company gives fine performances of Wesley-Smith's
quasi-16th century and post-barbershop quartet music, only Jo Burton and Clive Birch
seemed at ease in their impersonation of characters in Quito's unhappy life.

At the purely musical level, Wesley-Smith is without equal in this country when
it comes to electronic music. In particular, his manipulation of a speech by Bill
Clinton was fascinating.

The political nature of the work and its elements of cabaret-style criticism incline
me to think that in a shortened version Quito would work well on television.