TRH Review: Cathedral

TRH Review: Cathedral

Originally published on The Reviews Hub

Awarded 4 stars – Disorienting

It is unsurprising to note that when one of your senses is deprived, the others will be heightened to overcompensate for the loss. What is surprising is the extent to which in everyday life we depend on every single one of our senses and, in this case, none more than sight. Plunged into the blackness for the entirety of Cathedral, the audience immediately feel on edge. Every shaft of light that emanates from Lisa Savini and Vjera Orbanic in the production that follows is a life raft in an otherwise dark and ominous ocean.

Cathedral is predominantly an audio-based performance. Old tape recorders replay crackled and distorted memories from former lovers, each one remembering different aspects of their relationship and, perhaps more interestingly, each remembering the same encounter differently.

The voices seem disjointed and distant; the memories are at the fringes of their conscious mind. But one thing comes across loud and clear – regardless of the occasion, each memory is tinged with sadness, guilt or something altogether more sinister. Perhaps there is a key event in the couple’s past that forever impacted them for the worse. The dimly lit and silhouetted figures of Savini and Orbanic only serve to complement the overwhelming pathos here, the overall message being a yearning to return to what once was and is no more.

As Savini and Orbanic move around the pitch black stage, they shine a small ray of hope onto the audience – sometimes a silhouetted spotlight, sometimes a handheld light that they manipulate, ethereal and otherworldly. Then this is wrenched away, jarring & piercing noises and crackling sound effects disorient the audience once more and plunge them into the unknown, the dark, the anticipation.

The whole combination paints a wonderful picture without colour, abstract and intriguing. In this production the story is almost a lesser aspect, a passenger in the backseat. It is the interpretation that drives this vehicle forward. It controls the sense of time; the sense of pace; even the senses themselves. “You shut the door to isolate yourself from the rest of the world”; one performer washes herself clean with the light and this message rings clearly in the ears of the audience. Despite being in a crowd, one can feel isolated and alone, initially scared of what may happen but cannot be predicted.

However, despite the initial feelings of fear and doubt, there is ultimately a comfort in the darkness; it acts as a protective security blanket. The production twists the pre-conceived feeling of being safer in the light; at the end of the play the cold, harsh lights painfully glare out at the audience. The ability to once again see clearly proves to be blinding.

Director: Giulio Blason and Yaron Shyldkrot

Reviewer: Daniel Perks

Runs until 10 April 2016 | Image: Vivianna Chiotini