On The High Road by Clod Ensemble.

Their introduction on the press release programme describes the ensemble as an intoxicating explosion of movement, music, and light. This is an understatement for the entrancing journey in which the audience is about to embark on as their incredible performance begins.

Performing on their opening night to a well-attended auditorium at Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Center before it goes out on tour. Director Suzy Wilson has achieved an amazing 55-minute production with her incredible production and creative talented team behind her.

Wilson was also in charge of the choreography which in this production is incredibly well balanced, timed and smoothly performed. The ensembles synchronized movements are an absolute credit to her abilities and finely tuned eye for the tiniest of details especially in one scene when part of the ensemble knocked into each other one by one leading to a domino effect coming down the set.

Melanie Pappenheim hauntingly beautiful gothic style singing opens the production. Her mythical status is in keeping with the genre and was upheld as the stage was lit on and off by strobe lighting and enormous thunderclaps to portray an incredibly powerful thunderstorm.

The stark black clothed performers contrasted against the white part sectioned house looked fantastic. The house section which is set centre stage and the vast majority of the performance took place within it. While using every available space, surface and object to fluidly move from each level with what appears to be effortlessly.

You cannot fail to be moved during scenes in which the entire cast perform with their eyes closed. Their precision in movements never falters as the beat of the music dictates who moves to where and how. Highlighting the level of professionalism each performer can most certainly be proud of.

Watching the shadow motions and movement of the cast was as entrancing as the performers themselves. Each thunderclap changed its stance and movements. Casting long drawn out silhouettes up the walls of the house in an eerie beguiling formation.

Although there is a synopsis to the performance of three travellers caught in a storm in On the High Road who come to take shelter in the house. Due to the nature of the performance, it allows each audience member to take away whatever vision they wish to from this show. A storyline isn’t necessarily important with this piece just more of a guideline to allow structure when advertising the show.

George Heyworth’s performance as the bohemian style drag queen brings the performance to life halfway through. The ensemble raises their tempo and dance more passionately as he sings and dances. An incredible voice and the only person on the stage to wear a blinged costume although the shell-like sequinned effect tunic is still all in black.

However, my only criticism is the third Irish ballad singer. This section requires tougher editing, he sang for far too long losing the effect it should have held on the overall scene. Sadly at times, the music drowned his voice away making him more of an irritating under current noise which in all honesty didn’t do his singing ability any justice.

A thoroughly interesting and unusual performance which I hope will go to be well received as it goes onto the tour in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Four Stars.

Cast

Christopher Akrill

Ellen Yilma

George Heyworth

Ihsaan de Banya

Makiko Aoyama

Melanie Pappenheim

Rachel Rapisardi

Ramona Nagabczynska de Barbaro

Thomas McCarthy

Tiffany Desplanques

Yen-Ching Lin

Zoe Bywater.

Creative and Production Team

Beth Bilcliffe-Wardrobe Supervisor

Claire Cunningham-Rehearsal Director

Hansjorg Schmidt-Lighting Designer

Kit Denison-Assistant Producer, Clod Ensemble

Louise Blackwell-Associate Producer, Clod Ensemble

Mat Ort-Production Manager

Mike Winship-Deputy Sound Engineer

Naomi Young-Company Stage Manager

Olivia Amory-General Manager, Clod Ensemble

Paul Clark-Composer, Artistic Director, Clod Ensemble

Rob Donnelly-Jackson-Sound Engineer

Roxanne Peak-Payne- Producer, Clod Ensemble

Sara Augieras-Deputy Performer

Sarah Blenkinsop-Designer-Set and Costume

Stephen Brown-Consultant Dramaturg

Suzanna Hurst-Communications Manager, Clod Ensemble

Suzy Wilson-Director, Artistic Director, Clod Ensemble.

Photo credit Hugo Glendenning

Written on behalf of UKTW.com

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