ArtsHub: Festival: Reviews

16/10 2018  RICHARD WATTS

Song for a Weary Throat

4 stars ★★★★

Dead leaves litter the dusty floor of an abandoned hall, and stacks of chairs line the walls. Here is an empty milk crate, there a pile of old carpet. Behind a battered row of fold-down seats a young woman sits, quietly reading. She stands, begins writing a phrase in chalk on a makeshift wall, is interrupted. A sudden cataclysm, an explosion of light and noise. In the silence which follows the stage is littered with bodies. Another explosion. Bodies crumpled anew. Chaos and disorder from which life and beauty slowly emerge.

Devised by the members of Rawcus, a company of artists with and without disability, together with the vocal ensemble Invenio Singers, Song for a Weary Throat is a collective response to trauma; a compelling dance-theatre production exploring grief and rage, shock and resilience, harmony and dissonance.

Across a series of near-wordless tableaus, skilfully directed by Artistic Director Kate Sulan, the production explores what it means to be human in ways which at times are achingly beautiful, with the whispers, lip-smacks, sighs and songs of the Invenio Singers, coupled with Jethro Woodward’s sound design, contributing hugely to proceedings.

As the production continues it chafes occasionally – greater variation in tone would strengthen its impact, as would reducing its running time – but at its best, Song for a Weary Throat is exquisite and ambitious; a rich meditation on our shared humanity and our resilience in the face of disaster.