Pros: Héloïse Werner’s hauntingly beautiful, intense and masterful performance.
Cons: The abstract nature of the piece means that it is sometimes hard to empathise with the characters and to feel a connection with the emotions portrayed.
Grief is a personal experience that we all grapple with in our own way. The loss of a loved one is hard to stomach and often hard to talk about. One feels isolated, empty and confused. In this abstract, almost excruciatingly intimate, one-woman opera at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Héloïse Werner takes the audience on a journey to delve into some of the complexities and absurdities of death. Scenes from the End, brilliantly directed by Emily Burns, is an abstract exploration into the types of themes to which words alone cannot do justice.
Outside the black box theatre, the commercial Covent Garden Christmas spirit rages, the thin walls of the Tristan Bates Theatre not quite withstanding the hullabaloo. However, inside, a young woman with a strong and piercing voice, a knack for physical theatre and a powerful stage presence, captures the audience’s attention in a much more sombre and thoughtful way.
The piece is split into three distinct parts: the end of the universe, humanity and the death of an individual. There is no clear storyline, only a series of emotions, spoken words and haunting melodies that paint a picture of grieving and loss. The effect of this abstract approach is mixed. The last part felt personal, relatable and therefore powerful, whereas the first two segments made me think of an apocalyptic movie rather than actual human suffering.
Opera is not often recognised for its innovative and new approaches, but this piece radically redefines what the art form stands for. If you’ve had enough of the saccharine Christmas spirit, this performance will give you both the space and the stimulus for self-reflection.
Director: Emily Burns
Performer: Héloïse Werner
Words and music: Jonathan Woolgar
Booking until: This production has now completed its run