★★★★☆ A feast for the ears peppered with delicious performances, but an implausible plot leaves a sour taste.

Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne
March 1, 2016

When you think about it, music and food aren’t all that dissimilar. Both have the power to manipulate our emotions or evoke distant memories, and the physical sustenance of a good meal mirrors the psychological nourishment delivered by a beautiful performance. A production combining these two elements is a tasty prospect, but while many of the key ingredients that make up Paul Grabowsky and Steve Vizard’s new chamber opera, Banquet of Secrets, are of world-class quality, some shortcomings leave a sour taste.

Its premise is both simple and relatable: four old friends, Mia (Antoinette Halloran), Jean Pierre (Kanen Breen), Drew (David Rogers-Smith) and Rose (Dimity Shepherd), who met at university twenty years earlier, come together for their annual reunion at their favourite restaurant. As is often the case, the ups and downs of their busy lives have pushed them apart over time, but for one night a year, they meet to reconnect, reminisce and rekindle the bonds of their deep friendship. This particular meeting is different from previous occasions, however. A special degustation banquet has...