Sing, River - Hope Theatre
A muddy concoction of myth, folk and love
Candles and trinkets litter the floor of The Hope Theatre, expectantly waiting for Nathaniel Jones’s soon to be Edinburgh bound play to begin, but what follows feels fundamentally flawed and not ready for the fringe audience.
Eloquent, lyrical language is in abundance as Jones (also performing) attempts to lure us onto the riverbed, awash with the lost myths of the English countryside. He imagines the stories of the items nestled under the current, the reasoning behind their discarding and the complex histories they must hold. The piece takes an age to get moving, far more focussed on the sound of the sentences than any true substance or plot. It is only in the final 15 minutes before it finally begins to show hints of character or reasoning albeit slightly predictable and underwhelming.
The music, though initially charming in its folk style, adds little to the overall production as it becomes repetitive and just like the script steadily leaks substance. The titular song “Sing, River” is the strongest but fails to make a lasting impression as the others melt into one. Jones has a nice voice for the genre, delicately navigating the melodies but he and the pleasant harmonies are not enough to spark needed life into the score. With regards to design elements, there is some seriously questionable lighting design tonally out of step with the rest of the production - clunky transitions that are wholly unnecessary and poor.
Jones does his best in performing his text, but the murkiness of the play's intentions inherently seeps through into his delivery. There is confusion in the character’s motivations, oddly switching between ethereal spirit wondering about the effect of time passing before making cheap pop-culture jokes that fail to land. Mulling the piece over afterwards, I cannot coherently explain what the piece was attempting to say, let alone what the production was about. The script and purpose need heavy examination in order to not see audiences washed away in its wake.
Running until 8th July
Photography - Phylly Hickish