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Musical World

Jonathan Kent

  • Director, Artistic/Stage


Jonathan Kent press reviews

Chekhov: A Month in the Country, Chichester Festival Theatre
After five superb months in the country, the 2010 Chichester Festival season wraps up with a production that is stylish in every way. We might first notice Paul Brown’s magnificent dacha set, with its branches stretching out over the ceiling of the entire auditorium, but it’s soon apparent that the acting and direction are of a similar class.
This being a Russian play, there’s a fighting chance no one will come out happy and director Jonathan Kent is commendably intent on wringing every last drop of emotion out of the turmoil so elegantly conveyed by Brian Friel’s adaptation.
Fiona Mountford / Evening Standard / 4 October 2010
Jonathan Kent’s acute revival, the first major one this century, is set in a garden complete with autumn leaves, vegetable patch and birch trees. Foliage hangs from the ceiling. There is a strong sense of seclusion in this challengingly large auditorium.
From a polite, diffuse start, this becomes an absorbing, amusing and finally affecting depiction of the awkward interaction between love and responsibility.
Kent’s production triumphs as an ensemble piece.
This is a rewarding few hours in the country.
Donald Cooper / The Times / 2 October 2010
An outstanding season at Chichester ends in a blaze of poignant autumnal glory with this beautiful production of A Month in the Country.
The play … is being staged in Brian Friel’s fine version. … In Friel’s mixture of jokes, sharp characterisation, painful misunderstandings and a haunting sense of opportunities lost, he goes right to the heart of the piece.  So, too, does Jonathan Kent’s beautifully cast production…. Just the sight of the set makes one sigh with pleasure.
Once again Chichester has a hit on its hands, and one that must surely be West End bound.
Charles Spencer / The Daily Telegraph / 1 October 2010
I think I can see why Jonathan Kent has chosen to use Brian Friel's very free adaptation of Turgenev's 1848 classic. Friel renders Turgenev's delicate, naturalistic comedy in strong primary colours, which accords with Kent's philosophy – shown by a previous production of Chekhov's Ivanov – of playing the revered Russians in uninhibitedly emotional style. The result ... makes for a buoyant evening.
… this is an all-stops-out production that reminds us there is no room for gloved politeness when the heart is inflamed.
Michael Billington / The Guardian / 1 October 2010

Don Giovanni / Glyndebourne, 2010

Jonathan Kent's production, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, designed by Paul Brown and stunningly lit by Mark Henderson, lives up to the Danish philosopher's high opinion of Mozart and Da Ponte's treatment of the tale of the sociopathic serial rapist and murderer (as we'd diagnose the don today).
Mozart and Da Ponte were conscious that they were treading a very thin line between the comic and the serious. All the nuance and subtlety of this tension is present in Mr. Kent's sublime staging, which should become a Glyndebourne classic.
Paul Levy / Wall Street Journal / 9 July 2010
Jonathan Kent’s reinvention of Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne is magnificent.
Jonathan Kent’s Don Giovanni certainly delivers the goods.
William Hartston / Daily Express / 9 July 2010
I'm pleased to report that this time the Sussex haven has come up with a new production smelling of roses.
Jonathan Kent's intelligent staging transports us to the 1950s, but is dominated by designer Paul Brown's ingenious and astonishing scenery.
David Gillard / Daily Mail / 8 July 2010

Jonathan Kent certainly gives the audience plenty to chew on. … Kent keeps the action moving and doesn’t mess about: tautness and leanness characterise the staging. Without being aggressively gimmicky, he has some good, fresh incidental ideas, too: the flames come for Giovanni at the end of Act 1 (via Masetto’s petrol can) rather than Act 2, the Commendatore isn’t a statue but a blood-stained corpse, and snow falls bleakly but beautifully during Giovanni’s serenade.
Rupert Christiansen / Daily Telegraph / 5 July 2010

Kent’s production inhabits an ingenious set by Paul Brown … that updates the action to within a few decades of the present day. The fracturing of that set is a powerful metaphor for moral collapse. …
Both he (Finley) and the production exude danger. From the electrifying opening, through Giovanni’s neck-risking clambering outside Donna Anna’s window, to the hell-portending fires that break out at the close of Act 1 and on to the final supper table, the staging underlines the philanderer’s demonic aspect.
Barry Millington / Evening Standard / 5 July 2010

Paul Brown’s truly amazing set for Jonathan Kent’s new Glyndebourne staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni is – like the opera’s anti-hero - full of surprises. It opens, it unfolds, it conceals, it deviously transforms and eventually, inevitably, disintegrates. ...
But this visual stylisation is thrown into the sharpest relief with Kent’s naturalistic descent into a period where the rock n’roll of the Don’s privileged lifestyle will have seemed particularly enticing. ...
The success of Kent’s update entails the risky strategy of to some extent playing against the reckless dash of the narrative … and playing the recitative at conversational pace.
Edward Seckerson / Independent / 5 July 2010


The Fairy Queen / Brooklyn Academy of Music, March 2010

Kent’s staging showed that the hybrid genre of semi-opera can still give delight across the centuries.  …  Kent treated the work with admirable seriousness, bringing out its more unsettling resonances.
Alex Ross / The New Yorker / April 19, 2010

For Glyndebourne Festival Opera last summer, producer Jonathan Kent and conductor William Christie had the bright idea of presenting “The Fairy Queen” in the form for which Purcell conceived his music. …
The Glyndebourne staging was recently ensconced in the Howard Gilman Opera House of the Brooklyn Academy of Music for four performances. At the first, on March 23, its four hours went by quickly, with the evening proving decisively that any conceptual problems with the semi-opera format are purely logistical, not artistic.
“A Midsummer Night's Dream” is possibly Shakespeare's funniest play, and Kent manages to both sustain its reputation as such and use it as a platform for further comic send-ups. Shakespeare's “rude mechanicals” (the program booklet calls them “craftsmen”) are present in force, making their first appearance as a modern cleaning crew in the handsomely appointed English manor house (Paul Brown is the designer with lighting by Mark Henderson) where the action takes place.
George Loomis / / 29 March 2010

Fairy Queen / Opéra-Comique, January 2010
En vrai post-moderne, Jonathan Kent joue avec virtuosité d’une large palette dramatique qui fait se culbuter gestique et danse anciennes, effets de comédie musicale, scenes en gros clins d’oeil bien appuyés à la Monty Python mais aussi des éléments d’un elegant raffinement onirique. Tout cela coexite dans une miraculeuse logique et les transitions se font sans le moindre heurt (alors que les movements de décors sont nombreux et délicats) par une troupe de jeunes acteurs formidables, des veterans drôlissimes de la scène britannique, de jeunes chanteurs impeccables, un William Christie et des Arts Florissants idéaux.
Le Monde / 18 January 2010

… le spectacle est dévoré par le théâtre, c’est lui qui mène la danse.  Jonathan Kent n’évite pas certaines facilités: les artisans sont évidamment de notre siècle et les divertissements font des clins d’oeil en dessous de la ceinture (le lapins, fatal), ce mélange des époques en ajoute encore dans le côté foutraque, mais l’on rit de bon Coeur.
Jean-Charles Hoffelé / / 16 January 2010

The Fairy Queen / Glyndebourne, July 2009
The director Jonathan Kent delivers an evening of theatrical enchantment
The Sunday Telegraph / John Allison/ 28 June 2009
Jonathan Kent's magnificently inventive, entertaining and saucy production........ Jonathan Kent ingeniously strives to connect the unconnected..... this astounding production.
The Observer / Kate Kellaway/ 28 June 2009
Jonathan Kent's staggering new production.......Much of its brilliance derives from Kent's ability to recreate the splendour of baroque theatre
The Guardian / Tim Ashley / 22 June 2009
It says much for Kent’s direction that this eclectic merry-go-round never loses its way
The Times / Richard Morrison / 22 June 2009
But the show’s the thing and it’s not often you see a director and designer collude so seamlessly, so imaginatively, and so amusingly in their endeavours.
The Independent / Edward Seckerson / 21 June 2009
Kent’s inventive direction.
Evening Standard/ Barry Millington / 22 June 2009
It’s a superb company achievement.
The Stage/ George Hall / 22 June 2009