by Helen Chadwick.
Tour 10-25 October 2014.
Runs: 1hr 15min No interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 20 June at Skittle Alley Old Royal Naval College Greenwich.
Fine musical testament.
Helen Chadwick’s War Correspondents, performed deep in the bowels of the Old Royal Naval College in the hauntingly-titled, still used Skittle Alley with its runnels and heavy wooden cannon balls in situ offers something sobering but still dramatically airborne and beguiling.
Clustered on stools, looking like journalists caught in make-shift circumstances and lit by shadows, Chadwick and her quartet take us into the heart of darkness with a stirring a capella song-cycle based on interviews with war correspondents and Human Rights Watch’s Giorgi Gogia.
A range of emotions and musical styles underscored by Steven Hoggett’s brilliant syncopated movement gives this 75 minutes fantastic dramatic drive and precision. This is music theatre performance of the highest order.
Chadwick’s music, with lyrics from interviews with journalists and by Michael Leunig, Henry Longfellow, Bertolt Brecht, Samil al Qasim, Mansur Muhammad Ahmad Rajih, Saadi Yousef, Symborska, and Erich Fried.
With a string of music theatre commissions (Royal Opera House, RSC, English Touring Opera) Chadwick finds a wonderfully rich vein of rhythms and atmospheres for the 29 songs reflecting the view, attitudes and observations expressed, some of them directly, by the correspondents.
Sometimes the sound is soft, wistful, at other times upbeat, jazzy or like a pop song. More often, it is a drone, a lament for the tensions inherent between news-gatherers and the business of war: the drive to `get the story’, the difficulty of remaining impartial (`being on the side of those who suffer’), the manipulation and `spin’, the horror of when doing the job disables you from helping and having a human response.
Most eloquently, the final songs sing of resignation and disillusion: `Everything stays broken’; `it goes on happening’. And fading optimism: `if we keep telling the truth, I keep hoping that some day it will be better for all of us’.
A sad hope but a fine, fine testament.
Cast: James Lailey, Michael Mears, Oliver Senton, Rebecca Thorn, Helen Chadwick.
Directors: Steven Hoggett, Helen Chadwick.
Designer: Miriam Nabarro.
Lighting: Natasha Chivers.
Sound: Peter Malkin
Musical Directors: Helen Porter, Helen Chadwick.
Dramaturgy Associate: John Lloyd Davies.
Vocal Coach: Helen Poter.
Associate sound: Dominic Kennedy.
Production Manager: Erik Perera.
Associate choreographer: Naomi Said.
Video: Farrows Creative Ltd.
Web support: ExamEnglish.com.
Interviews conducted by: Helen Chadwick and Miriam Nabarro
Interview transcriptions: Helen Chadwick, Michael Mears, Mia Theil Have, Lizzie Franks and Natalia Clark.
World premiere: The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 24 April 2014.
Co-commisioned by Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Sage Gateshead and New Writing North for Durham Book Festival.
Supported by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Arts Council England and many others including singers, and journalists. Development at the National Theatre Studio; the Department of Theatre and Performance Goldsmiths College and Greenwich Foundation Old Royal Naval College.
10-11 7.30pm Oct Stratford Circus London 0844 357 2625 www.stratford-circus.com
14 Oct The Sage Gateshead 0191 443 4661 www.sagegateshead.com
15 Oct Durham Cathedral 0191 204 8850.
16-17 Oct Arena Theatre Wolverhampton 01902 321321 www.theatresonline.com/theatres/wolverhampton-theatres/arena-theatre
21 Oct 7.30pm Aberystwyrth Arts Centre 01970 623232 www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk
22 Oct 8pm The Stables Wavendon Milton Keynes 01908 280800 www.thestables.org
23-25 Oct 7.45pm Mat Sat 4pm Salisbury Playhouse (Salberg Studio) 01722 320333 www.salisburyplayhouse.com
Note: some of the venues above do not confirm these dates – they are those where no time is indicated.