Review: Songs of Lear, Battersea Arts Centre

“Is my heart too large for you?”

It’s Shakespeare but not as you know it… It’s been over four years since I saw Polish company Song of the Goat but their haunting interpretation of Macbeth is still etched on my mind and so when they announced a return of their 2012 hit Songs of Lear I was keen to make a date during their short visit to Battersea Arts Centre. Not even a severe case of manflu could keep me away but I should probably apologise for passing on my germs to anyone who ended up with them! 

There’s no easy way to describe the work of Song of the Goat that really does them sufficient justice. I could talk about the expressionistic Kandinsky-inspired sketches that King Lear is condensed to create the 10 songs of the show but their enigmatic beauty is so much more than a simple reduction. Likewise, the words ‘Corsican polyphonic singing’ can’t convey the soul-wrenching beauty of what we hear (the merest snippet of which can be heard in the clip below). Continue reading “Review: Songs of Lear, Battersea Arts Centre”

Review: Macbeth, Song of the Goat at the Barbican

“It is a tale…full of sound and fury”

Pulling together elements of Corsican chanting, poetry, Korean instrumentation, dance, Japanese-style robes, movement inspired by martial arts training and much manipulation of wooden staffs, Song of the Goat’s hypnotic and mesmerising retelling of Macbeth plays in the Pit at the Barbican after a UK tour which will also see them visit Brighton after this residency.

It is an immersive experience suffused with a primal energy that takes you to the heart of the show, revealing new layers with a piercing emotional directness. To be sure, it isn’t a straight retelling of the play as it is known, indeed it is more accurate to describe it as something like a rhapsody on a theme of Macbeth: it is probably not one for the purists given the amount of editing and cutting here and the occasional dip into obscurity that results, one needs to approach this almost without prior expectation or knowledge in order to just embrace what they are trying to achieve. Continue reading “Review: Macbeth, Song of the Goat at the Barbican”