The Sma Room Seance
Hybrid music-theatre in search of poet William Soutar's spirit
This article is from 2014.
Here is the setup. We, the audience, are a group of poetry-hungry gullibles, attending a session with a medium of unidentified origin and heavy makeup, name of Madame Lozatska. On stage there is a jazz-folk band playing the poems of Perth-born poet, William Soutar, set to music. Of course. Why wouldn’t there be?
This all takes a bit of time to process, not helped by Jennifer Bates’ frenetic first turn as Gyspy Rose Psychic. The contrast between the band - subtle, perfectly judged although vocalist Debra Salem is not altogether comfortable singing in the Doric - and Bates's high-concept shouting is not enjoyable.
However, when she turns down the volume and channels the different players in Soutar’s life, she is a different performer altogether and highly impressive. The music, composed by members of the band, is delicious. Ajay Close’s script is finely crafted and clever. There are just too many ideas clanging together to make the show really work.
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Brides, run now ended.