WHEN THE FALLEN SANG
by Suzy Almond.
St Giles in the Fields 60 St Giles High St WC2H 8LG To 20 July 2013.
Runs 1hr 15min
Review: Francis Grin 19 July.
Re-discovering a historical gem in the heart of London’s city.
To say that St.Giles in the Fields has an interesting history, would be an understatement. Located in the heart of London, the church was initially a haven for those with leprosy, later opening its doors to all ‘outcasts’ of society. Set in the church itself, Suzie Almond’s When the Fallen Sang explores the rich history of St. Giles’ parish, as director Marie McCarthy and Lightning Ensemble, bring life to the types of characters who might have survived within these walls.
As the production opens, the four main characters recite a prayer to Saint Giles, the patron saint of cripples. The prayers shift from the humorous, “Dear Saint Giles I have a fungal infection”, to more serious notes (cancer, homelessness, addiction).
With this, we are introduced to a series of individuals in need of Saint Giles’ help – an alcoholic mother struggling to keep her baby alive, a man recently infected with leprosy, a displaced anarchist, an addict who has left his family, and Queen Matilda, the woman who founded St.Giles church.
Though the multitude of stories explored give the piece its playfulness, it also somewhat strips the play of its potential depth, as we can only touch on them at surface level.
One of the most intriguing characters is Queen Matilda. There is a complexity and duality in her motives that make the character very interesting to watch; we wonder whether she is saving these ‘lost souls’, or saving herself. Most moving is the scene where she refuses to allow a man with leprosy to wash her feet and we come to question her good intentions, a scene strongly played by Nick Danan, and Caroline Colomel as Matilda.
The production becomes an exploration both of space and story as director Marie McCarthy and movement director Helen Heaslip make full use of the church, staging the scenes in a variety of different rooms. Although the story sometimes lacks focus and I would have liked some more background information on the chapel, overall this makes an enjoyable production.
Ensemble: Caroline Colomel, Sarah Hall, Stephanie Prior, Nick Danan, Jack Lewis, Nneka Okoye, Glen Supple.
Director: Marie McCarthy.
Lighting: Simeon Miller.
Sound: Neil McKeown.
Costume: Kate McStraw.