Cathedral

Cathedral is a midnight mass - an ode to memory and the sense of loss which carefully evokes a frozen, car-crash, state of mind. Two actualities run in tandem. A voice-over, male then female, piles up pieces of narrative that form imperfect recollections of a relationship into an overlapping collection. Coffees, neglected gifts, and cold smiles provide some of the minutiae, some of the debris, in testimonials delivered with the flatness of a recalled dream.These extracts are excellently made and utterly convincing - Michael Patrick, Alys Henry and Kate Ryan doing fine work.

Pleasingly, no answers are given; only images as the sibyls play with light and falling sand, melancholy personified.

Meanwhile, on a bare stage, Vjera Orbanic and Lisa Savini are two wordless sibyls enacting or reacting in physical theatre, which is at sometimes rather stiff, at others eerily beautiful. Around them, gales of brilliantly developed soundscape swirl, colouring what little we see and what sense we can make from the disembodied, broadcast voices.

Despite its rather brutal staging, Cathedral is a tender work, and the fierceness conveyed by some of its more provocative moments is not misplaced. It chooses to use the mainstays of drama - light and sound - to minimalist and hence maximal effect. This is not a subtle show but the control exercised in sculpting tension is remarkable. Repeatedly, we are plunged into darkness and silence, and often the question ‘why? ’is for that short time as nagging as it might be in the seemingly interminable state of grief.

Pleasingly, no answers are given; only images as the sibyls play with light and falling sand, melancholy personified.

The great buildings after which the play - and the Raymond Carver short story, from which it is derived - are named are known to be the supreme staging of the drama of existence, controlling both light and sound to masterly effect. This piece deliberately grates those two tectonic plates together to throw heat, smoke and light into the freezing void of loss, blindness and death. By doing this it also manages, incredibly, to bring a kind of warmth to the most desolate of human conditions. Highly recommended.

Reviews by Charley Ville

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

There is a story, but we can’t remember the details. It has a figure, but its features escape us. You’re my old lover, but I can’t remember your voice. ‘Cathedral’ is held in semi-darkness and explores the disruption of memory through a collage of immersive sound, storytelling and physical theatre.

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