Sunday, 23 July 2017

Citrus Arts Savage Hart

Standard YouTube Licence

Citrus Arts Savage Hart 22 July 2017, 19:00 Oakwell Hall, Birstall 

To stage an open air performance of a show combining aerial displays and dance in the grounds of an Elizabethan manor house using the building as a backdrop was an ambitious project and risky one given the uncertainties of the British climate. Most of yesterday was delightful in Yorkshire in contrast to the previous two days, but at 19:00, just as the artists in Citrus Arts's Savage Hart were mounting the stage a dark cloud appeared and refused to shift for the whole performance. To its credit, the cloud retained most of its moisture until the last few minutes of the show but then the heavens opened and the monsoon began.

Nobody moved throughout the performance despite the constant dripping even when those drips turned into drizzle. That says all you need to know about the quality of the show. The audience was charmed.  Our attention did not stray once until the performers took their bow.

The story was very simple. A bullet headed baron (Zeph Gould) was in the habit of hunting deer and sticking their heads above his mantelpiece much to the chagrin of his wife, Marianne, danced by Krystal Lowe. The spirits of those deer, danced by Luke Bradshaw (the stag), Hannah Darby (the doe) and Charlotte Dawson (the buck), revolted against this slaughter of their species and haunted tne baron. In that scene, the British weather actually assisted the artists because the flashing of the lights in Oakwell Hall combined with spooky music and a breeze that made the bare flames flicker under a threatening sky actually made my nerves tingle and my flesh creep. The haunting seemed to have worked for the baron and his wife donned deer heads in the last scene and danced with the spirits while moss, twigs and wild flowers enveloped the stage.

The show is not new as you can see from the video above. It was first staged for the theatre and it toured Wales to big audiences and critical acclaim as I mentioned in my preview, Juicyyesterday. The video suggests that there was a choir in the theatre. There were no singers yesterday but there was a live band consisting of Simon McCorry and James Minas Blight. I liked the music although I could only see one of the musicians from my position on the path a few yards to the left of the stage.

My only regret is that I did not get a chance to express my appreciation of the show to the performers in person. I particularly wanted to say hello to Krystal whom I have followed ever since I first saw her in Romeo a Juliet at Kendal over 4 years ago (see They're not from Chigwell - they're from a small Welsh Town called Newport 14 May 2013). I was so pleased to see her in the cast list that I blurted out "Krystal Lowe is dancing tonight" and "Toi toi Krystal" on Facebook which drew an immediate "like" from Anna Pujol, another fine dancer who deserves to go far, and the chair of the London Ballet Circle who is at least as much a fan of Krystal as I am.

Incidentally, yesterday was not the first time that I had seen Krystal in an open air show. She danced with Ballet Cymru and Gloucestershire Dance in Mark Brew's Stuck in the Mud through the streets and on the beach of Llandudno which I reviewed in An Explosion of Joy 21 Sept 2014. That review contains a very precious photo of her dancing with Mandev Sokhi, another very special dancer whom I was lucky enough to meet a few days before he died.

Just like the storm at the end of the first act of La Fille mal gardée everyone including the Creative Scene and Oakwell Halls officials scattered in the rain. I couldn't find a stage door or anyone who could take a message to the artists so this blog post will have to do. Well done Citrus Arts. I knew you were good from your work with Ballet Cymru but I now see what you can achieve on your own. I will follow your website and attend more of your shows whenever I get the chance. I hope the weather did not spoil your visit, that you had (or will have) a comfortable and speedy journey back to Wales and that we may welcome you back very soon.

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