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Two Caravans - King's Head Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

OperaUpClose is presenting the premiere of Two Caravans, a new chamber opera based on Marina Lewycka’s best-selling novel, at the King’s Head Theatre – from September 29 to October 20, 2013.

The winner of the inaugural ‘Flourish’ opera writing competition, Two Caravans has music by Guy Harries and a libretto by Ace McCarron, and tells the story of a group of immigrant strawberry pickers in search of a better life – and, perhaps, love – in England’s green and pleasant land.

Fresh off the boat from the Ukraine, Irina looks forward to meeting a cultured English gent, and certainly isn’t interested in her unsophisticated compatriot Andriy. But when Russian gangster Vulk decides the best way to romance Irina is to kidnap her, Andriy is forced to set off in search of the girl he really, truly, categorically isn’t in love with.

Composer Guy Harries has set Ace McCarron’s hilarious libretto to exuberant Eastern European melodies, creating a warm-hearted new opera for a cast of just seven performers who all play a number of roles.

Director Vincent van de Elshout brings his wealth of experience as a physical theatre performer and director of contemporary opera to this tale for our times, which is at once ‘a hilarious romp of a road trip and keen-eyed social satire’.

Two Caravans is OperaUpClose’s 14th production since it was founded in late 2009 for the experiment of producing La Bohème in a tiny pub theatre in Kilburn. Since then, the company has gone on to win an Olivier Award and Award, worked with directors and composers including Mark Ravenhill and Michael Nyman, become the resident company at the King’s Head Theatre and now tours productions to mid-scale theatres across the UK.

In 2012, OperaUpClose launched Flourish, an annual competition to find a new chamber opera. Extracts from this year’s competition shortlist will be performed at the King’s Head Theatre on the afternoon of Sunday, October 20 prior to the final performance of Two Caravans in the evening.

Tickets: £10 – £25, £10 preview (September 29) – all available from the box office on 020 7478 0160 or online at

Time: Sundays and Mondays at 7.15pm.

Dan Gordon’s The Boat Factory continues at the King’s Head Theatre until August 17, 2013. Also at the King’s Head: the world premiere of Ruby in the Dust’s Bonnie and Clyde.