City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Living Room, Summerhall, Review

By Jon Cross - Posted on 22 August 2016

The Living Room - Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards © Ilaria Costanzo-8182.jpg
Show details
Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards
Running time: 
Thomas Richards (Director)

We are shown into a large square room where we join other guests already seated on comfortable sofas and chairs. Coffees and teas are handed out by the welcoming hosts, who eventually step out into the performance space and break into song. They sing a cappella with pitch-perfect voices in gorgeous harmony. The language is unfamiliar, but the pure vocals swirl and resonate beautifully around the room.

The performers drift around in fluid, languid dance. They seem in a state of joyous rapture. Is there a story somewhere within this wonderful vocal landscape? There are glimpses, perhaps. A life? A journey? Fragments of a dream or memories? There are encounters with a mother, a son?

After a while, the beautiful songs start to sound repetitive. When someone speaks, the room, so kind to music, swallows up the spoken word as we strive to figure out what is going on.

The piece is billed as 'a performative event' and 'an investigation into how potentialities of performance craft can both enrich and be enriched by daily inter-personal relations and realities'. Perhaps it is unfair to lament the lack of any clear storyline, dramatic development or emotional range. But the performance stays too long at the same level - a strange kind of sustained ecstasy. We might be watching members of a religious cult going through their rituals. This is an esoteric form of 'art as vehicle' which may appeal to many as something out of the ordinary. The performers themselves clearly adore their work and are totally absorbed in it.

The performance was originally scheduled to run for two hours, which would have been self-indulgent. At an hour and a half, it was too long. As proceedings drew to a close, the performers began a long process of handing out sandwiches, cake and drinks to each member of the audience. Some sat down and began chatting. After a good few minutes, it seemed clear that the event would not be over until people started to leave. I decided to lead the way.

18-21 August, 11.30
Tickets £12 (£10)