SaltSong – A review of seaweed, sirens and ‘salty’ memories.
Salt Song (1) performers taking a break from rehearsals at Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds, September 2013. Photo by Lizzie Coombes for Imove, 2013
As I arrived I was met with little piles of sand, mussels and seaweed, spilling out onto the street, as if the sea had washed up on the steps of the Hyde Park Picture House. I felt immediately at ease and went in search of the Giant Lobster, as I’d heard that he was the man to see if I wanted fish and chips. My next encounter was Madame Langoustine, an irreverent fortune teller (I didn’t cross her palm with silver but she told me my fortune anyway!) Other pre-show delights included quirky roaming characters – I especially like the bear dressed in a long coat – and as these characters moved amongst us, it was a really engaging beginning and I felt confident what was to follow would be extraordinary.
As the house lights faded, Salt Song began….
Photo of Rommi Smith by Lizzie Coombes for Salt Song, Imove at Hyde Park Picture House September 2013
Much like the ebb and flow of the tide, the evening unravelled in waves through a combination of film, live music and spoken word and I was immersed in a rich experience of sounds, smells and sensations. Rommi Smith’s enticing words; the sirens’ eery songs (Royst) luring us in, deeper and deeper. All this was complemented perfectly by Dave Kane’s score and gifted band.
Dave Kane conducting for Salt Song (1) at Hyde Park Picture House 5 September 2013. Photo by Lizzie Coombes for Imove
I loved Andy Wood’s film of the woman walking on the sand – something very purposeful about her. I liked seeing her feet and could almost feel the sand she walked on. The Scarborough swimmers were fab. What I appreciated most was the visceral nature of the evening, all the frippery and odd embellishments were very appealing. Royst’s rendition of ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ made me think of the characters from a Tim Burton film – Nightmare before Christmas springs to mind. I could detect director Jason Hird’s appealing ‘mentalism’ all over this production.
Salt Song Production Photo by Lizzie Coombes, 5 September 2013 at Hyde Park Picture House for Imove
As the production continued it did (for me personally) start to lose some of its brilliance – repetition diluted the experience. Certain bits felt enthrallingly disjointed and took me further away from the story, but perhaps as this was about how we archive memories that was the point. The other noteworthy point was that the experience upstairs was very different. My friends were sat upstairs and said that they had felt a little removed from the proceedings and had been unaware of many of the characters and little extras that had been happening. I wonder if some of this could have happened upstairs too? We concluded that these restricted views could have been rewarded by cheaper tickets. Having said that, Salt Song was an unarguably stunning piece of work from a collection of richly talented artists. I heard a prediction from Madame Langoustine that this may cause future sell-out performances … I think she might be right.
Salt Song (1) Deborah Sanderson as Madame Langoustine, Photo by Andy Wood at Hyde Park Picture House Sep 2013 for Imove.
Salt Song involved, Andy Wood (filmmaker, photography, soundscapes); Dave Kane (composer & musical director) Rommi Smith (performer and writer; spoken word, original narrative poetry, lyrics and libretto), and Jason Hird of the Institute for Crazy Dancing, who directed the performance. The Salt Song band brings highly-respected musicians together for the first time, performing a new, live composition by Dave Kane: Musicians include: Matthew Bourne (Piano, Accordion, Cello), Simon Beddoe (Trumpet), Tom Sidebottom (Violin),Oliver Dover (Tennor Sax, Bass Clarinet),Seth Bennett (Double Bass),Joost Hendrickx (Drums).Vocalists Røyst,Trio (Kan Bleivik, Maria Jardardottir, Cecilie Giskemo) appeared as a chorus of Sirens, singing an original libretto written by Rommi Smith.The event marks the first new production by Imove following on from Yorkshire’s Cultural Olympiad programme, and is funded by Legacy Trust UK, creating a lasting impact from London 2012 by funding ideas and local talent to inspire creativity across the UK.Previously Imove has merged sports and art in unusual environments (in the sea, on the moors, in a big top). For information, contact Imove producer Tessa Gordziejko.
@Zoe_Parker is a choreographer, trainer and teacher working in dance and wellbeing. She is currently co-producing and choreographing Million Dollar Mermaid for @yorkslifeaqua, performed at @BramleyBaths on 29th September yorkshirelifeaquatic.wordpress.comTags: Hyde Park Picture House, leeds, Salt Song