Here is a show that from its purist of beginnings delivers a gem that leaves you thinking what an extraordinary gift. Jill Dowse, Dan McGarry and Nate Ryan are without doubt an exceptionally in sync team. Congratulations to the performers, and for the inspirational thirty-eight poems and the guidance from director Steve Byrne. Both he and composer Derek Nisbet should have appeared on the stage at tonight's end of performance to share in the accolade - for what was a very honest, loud appreciative applause at tonight's conclusion might very well have led to a second curtain bow! I hope the show tours some more and onto other English-speaking festivals.
How inspiring to witness and really listen to such superb performers engaging so personally and musically with poetry. What these actors brought to the verse was enthralling, humorous and heartfelt. It took the audience beyond, into hardships and humour. Grasping the cleverness and fullness of words performed, not just recited, these three actors told stories, spun aural artworks for our imaginations to grab a hold of and run with. It was exciting and captivating.
At various points, there were solos, duos, trios, interwoven with melody and musical interludes and subtle breaks using varying instrumental segues. It was like opening the picnic basket and peering in to reach for even more delicacies.
The clever use of wooden crates metamorphosed throughout the performance: once stacks, later resting places, instrument desks, a goal post and even a cat basket, props without stops that kept on giving. The performers played and accompanied poetry with harmonies and sounds at times at odds and yet perfectly placed.
A choreographed work both musically and lyrically it presented the actor/musicians with duos on piano accordion and solo accordion, guitar, hand-tapping percussions on a box. One instrument reminded me of a dulcimer, and another a lamellophone, trumpet with and without mute and banjo. All instrumental brackets and accompaniments added to the richness and tension in the delivery. Clearly, a returning melody repetitiously drew us back and tied the work together. There may even have been an opportunity to share the more unusual instruments with the audience post performance.
The North Wall was the perfect venue for this performance and I encourage others to consider this venue for its impressive access to stage views and its cosy and moderate sized audience seating.
In regards to tonight's staging one question did arise - was darkness intentional or accidental for this show? It baffled me because the smoky haze and setting seemed to hinder the otherwise brilliant work. The audience were left wondering was the lighting technician really in full sync with the performers and the script, or was this first evening jitters?
The very detailed list of poems found in the programme allowed audience members to research their favourites at their leisure. Gratefully the performers recited the title as each piece unfolded. There were sure to be audience members wanting to reread their favourites like 'Table', 'Sonnet 89', 'The Door' and 'The Football'. 'Chamomile Breath' was spellbinding: such realism assisted by the background wheezing and gasping for air.
Poetry from our world has reached well Beyond the Water's Edge tonight and left us gazing on new horizons, desiring to reach out for more.