I’m fascinated by how visuals and music can combine to tell a story. Not a gig with video, not gig-theatre (eg Klanghaus) but a production that sets out to place the video, the message and the music on an equal footing.  Sentinel at Sale Waterside, part of the Manchester Science Festival, weaves music and video to record the threats to the world from climate change, nuclear development, disease and forced migration.

The aftershow panel, which included four scientists and the composer, discussed at length the issues around presenting climate change data in a way that people will sit up and take notice.  ‘It’s incredibly important to talk to different people in different ways’ and ‘We need to find new ways of telling stories, facts don’t always work’.

In this respect the performance works very well.  Complex digital images and specific data are projected on both a large rear screen and directly onto a semi transparent booth in which the music is created.  Information is shown in highly visual representations (design is by artist Valentina D’Efilippo), and continually repeated.  The subtle electronic keyboards of composer Richard Evans underlie the whole performance with repeating sequences, the effect very reflective.  Mezzo-soprano Olympia Hetherington provides the haunting vocals that perfectly suggest threat and challenge.

More than anything it is the way the separate parts of this fifty minute piece combine together seamlessly to evoke the emotion within climate change.  A fascinating way to communicate the challenges we face in our world today.  As one of the panelists said, ‘I loved the way big data was presented’.

Sale Waterside, 19 October 2017.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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