After the mixed reception of Highway One two nights prior, I was keen to sink my teeth into a safer bet: the festival choice of a International choir.
This year, A Filetta an all male choir form Corsica graced us in the Tabernacle in the Hayes. For just over an hour, they wow us in this intimate chapel setting. Granted, some of the singing is quite coarse (an acquired taste for sure) and evokes more Orthodox styles. The six member of A Filetta have a brotherly bond, proven by their huddling together a semi-circle and hands on each others backs as they harmonise.
Their harmonies were breathtaking and the moment they began to sing, I found myself on the brink of tears. I knew little of the repertoire, though they had picked Corsican infused music, bring the range of ancient with the modern, the east with the west. A surprise addition was that of O Come Let Us Adore Him, an odd choice for a concert in midsummer (I’ll confess), though lovely all the same.
The elder singer easily pulled in the most attention. He gesticulated widely and gave gruff, though transforming vocals as he bended his back around the other singers. At one point, he stoped the singing and they had to begin again, just to make the work perfect. As the concert went on, the music became more excitable and they seemed to lessen up more. The three-part polyphonic sound scares were what really made this choir seeing live. The addition of poetry by René Char and others was welcome (in both French and English), though we just wanted to here them sing.
This shall no doubt prove to a highlight of the entire festival and memory to cherish. The only thing to do now is to go and see Corsica!
*Spoilers for Double Vision follow*
With travel on my mind, the next big work is Gagglebabble and their new show: Double Vision. This a strange piece, which I’d say they got away with, the double vision in question is a statement on blindness and the shadow play (in the first part of the show). This cruise liner set play with additional songs easily evokes the Love Boat, Hitchcock films, Titanic and a wink to Roald Dahl. The cloths upon the staging, makes us yearn to see the performers, even after the supporting cast played ushers around us, camping it up as pre-show entertainment. When the cloths do fall, like Serena (the on board singer) we see anew. A lone blue lamp blinds our sight and we plunge int to second part of this double vision.
There is humour and some decent songs. The near lesbian love interest Mel has for Serena is ambiguous and her moral values begin to be questioned, as Serena is mysteriously able to see after years of visual deterioration. The twist is a surprise, but is no real shocker. Lisa Jên Brown as Serena has some super vocal skills, though there is little display of portraying a blind character. Mel here is played by plucky Hared Jarman, who guides Serena around the boat and tries to reassure her everything is agin to be ok, even after the miracle (nods to Jesus and St David perhaps?). She is a large part of the show and helps things bounce along, even if the tone does splash around.
The supporting cast and musicians are a welcome treat, adding funny moment (the elder American ladies characters made for the best comedy) and some funky musical passages were heard throughout. Video work by Joshua Pharo is the expected sea spray, star filled nights, huge creepy eyes and additional shadows. The metallic stage by Hayley Grindle is near art-deco and creates a impressive structure for just one of the Centre’s rehearsal rooms.
This off kilter show is a treat for those who like the zany, weird and just a good spectacle.
Double Vision continues at the Wales Millennium Centre till 17th June, closing day of the Festival of Voice.
This review has been supported by The Wales Critic Fund.
Join Weeping Tudor Productions on the 16th June for a James Joyce inspired Bloomsday celebration. Expect readings, songs, new writing, performance art and more! Dress in Bloomsday attire and read your favourite passage from the book. We have prizes for best dressed. Book below: