Venue Number 43. theSpace @ Symposium Hall, RCOS, Hill Square, EH8 9DR. 3-25 August 19:00 (55 minutes). Suitability: U.
|Broadway Baby Rating:|
What happens when the moon falls in love with a dying boy? This uplifting story features the sublime sounds of The Australian Voices... an a cappella choral-theatre work for 20 singers including movement, costumes, lighting and projections. www.theaustralianvoices.com.
|BROADWAY BABY REVIEW|
|Broadway Baby Rating:|
Given that I am Welsh and probably genetically hardwired to love close-harmony singing, I do not normally go out of my way to find it. However, on this occasion I made my way with my children (BBR11 and BBR8) to the Symposium Hall. As a venue, it is smart and has comfortable seats in the lecture theatre, each having a clear view of the stage and being well-placed for the acoustics. Australian Voices is a mixed choir of young people whose artistic director Gordon Hamilton wrote the music for Moon, while the text came from the pen of Australian writer Venero Armanno.
This darkly romantic love story between Diana, goddess of the moon, and Sam, a dying boy seeking solace on the internet seems melancholy and far-fetched at first, but the thirteen voices of the ensemble lifted the theme and conveyed emotion, as well as being used instrumentally. Movement also came into play during the performance and this helped with the essence of the ‘epic premise’. However, Sam’s foray into cyber-sex and his love-making with Diana whilst beautifully expressed, took the suitability out of the stated ‘universal’. It was a bit grunty in places. BBR11 was not phased but BBR8 squirmed, being eight. Mind you, he didn’t understand any of it and didn’t like the singing either.
About midway through, I heard throat-singing amid the voices. Supremely difficult, this technique raised the piece into the ethereal and it was impossible to tell from whose throat this wonderful sound emanated. The text is sparse and strange: Diana cries ‘tears of pearls’ and sends moonbeams to find Sam whose face is ‘ghost-lit by a computer screen’. A strange mix of ancient and modern, a reaching out to cross all divisions - between human and god, cosmic and earthbound, mythical, virtual and real.
The performance quite literally blew me away, through the stratosphere and out into the cormos, where I floated around for an hour or so before drifting back to Earth. Even BBR11 said he thought it was amazing. Moon is strange, ethereal and supremely beautiful. The subtle power of the voices transcends the everyday, and we all need a bit of that sometimes, don’t we?
has written 38 reviews for Broadway Baby since joining the team in 2012.
A fine musical experience, but theatrically dubious
|Geoff Dallimore Rating:|
I went to this show not knowing what to expect and came away not sure what I had seen and heard, and certainly finding it difficult to choose the words to express my feelings about the show.
Musically, the best word I can think to use to describe Moon is "dense". With intricate, very modern harmonies overlapping shouts, groans and whistles I often found my ear getting lost in the melee, but then a theme I remembered would strike out again and things would start to make sense. In this way, at least to my unrefined senses, composer Gordon Hamilton has done a marvellous job of treading the narrow path between the avant-garde and the accessible. Never did I find myself wholly bemused by the music, but I often found myself pleasantly surprised by the directions in took. The singing, also, I cannot fault with pleasing sounds emerging from the profoundest bass all the way up to the highest screeches both as a group and in the solo moments.
But Moon is also a piece of theatre with a script and a physical performance. The script is a simple but effecting story of love between the moon and a dying boy and, while there were moments of poetry in the writing, much of it felt clunky. This may have been intentional in contrasting the moon's serenity with the boy's modern facebook-fuelled life, but the end result failed to impress me. If this is a work that can be developed, then to my mind the first place to start would be the script, tweaking it to bring the words in line with the quality of the music.
The performance also had its problems. Again, there were brilliant moments as the singers moved around the stage into new figures with a resulting change in sound quality. But some of the performers seemed unsure of what they were doing which was immensely distracting when the group are seeking to move in unison. Worse, some of the more emotional moments verged on comical, largely due to the unflinching intensity with which the choir watched the conductor, thus preventing an "honest" performance. If this idea of theatrical choral music is to work, I feel the conductor needs to be removed from the equation so that the singers can be free to really perform.
Overall, a new and different experience, but also entertaining and with room for improvement. This is what the Fringe should be all about. Bravo!
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