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Review of Scenes From The End at The Tristan Bates Theatre

Héloïse Werner in Scenes From The End
Héloïse Werner in Scenes From The End

This is an examination of the consequences of loss, by means of a contemporary art piece performed by the talented and charismatic soprano soloist, Héloïse Werner.

There is seating for an audience of seventy in the attractive, intimate space of the Tristan Bates Theate which was recently redeveloped and is now equipped with top of the range technical equipment.

The set of Scenes From The End is minimalist. There is a surprisingly effective material backdrop of some lacy material, a frame for a doorway and a set of empty shelves holding only a ticking alarm clock. The lighting of this simple set, by Oliver Savidge, however is briliant, conjuring up the immensity and magic of our solar system to great effect.

The piece itself is divided into three sections. The first grieves for an imagined ending of the wonder of space, using the universe, perhaps, as a metaphor for all we may lose but cannot quantify.

The second section grieves for the human race, describing how we have tried very hard and done very well except for forgetting to make certain we survived. Laughter is harnessed as a tool here and so is the communicating, powerful echo of a human singing voice of great beauty.

In the final section we watch the grief of an individual, one who is isolated by this most devastating of emotions, someone who refuses to accept offered platitudes while also attempting to deny the finality of the ending of that which has been loved but who, as most of us do, reaches an acceptance of the mortal condition of living with the inevitability of endings, with the words, “One last weep then live.”

Héloïse Werner and the director, Roxana Haines, have created a performance of intensity fitting for the universal themes of the piece while the composer and writer, Jonathan Woolgar, has cleverly used repetition of text and variation of musical tone to create resonance and atmosphere.

The Tristan Bates Theatre is situated at The Actors Centre, which is founded and supported by many of the great British actors of our time. This is an attractive location frequented by the acting community, with a bar to enjoy both before and after the show (the running time is 40 minutes), situated as it is in the convenient heart of Covent Garden.

Three and a half gold stars

Review by Marian Kennedy

Scenes from the End
A tour-de-force showcase for soprano Héloïse Werner. Using a colourful array of vocal and theatrical means, composer Jonathan Woolgar and director Roxana Haines paint historic, comic and tragic pictures of “the end”, from the heat-death of the universe to the end of an individual life. This is virtuoso music theatre on a scale that is both cosmic and intimate.

Paris-born Héloïse Werner is singer and co-director for contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment, Park Lane Group Young Artists 2015/16 and winners of the 2014 Nonclassical Battle of the Bands. She recently created the role of Anya in one-woman opera “Mannequin” by Maria Vatenina at the Tête à Tête Opera Festival 2015. Jonathan Woolgar was 2010 winner of the Proms Young Composer Competition. His works have been performed by Manchester Camerata and Aurora Ensemble.

Tristan Bates Theatre, 1st February 2016, 8pm

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