By Paddy Then
Come join the late-night congregation of Worship, an evening of mysticism, jarring sound and avante garde performance that stirs a sensitive nerve within. In looking at the burdens of birth, death and the human renewal of life, Foxglove Productions and their selected artists paid homage to the Latin ideal of Memento Vivere, the bright reminder of life, and the reminder of pleasure of living amidst darkness.
Held on the 22nd of January at 11pm, we looked down on those seated in their rows from our higher position in the galley shadows of the Rechabite Hall. From it’s very beginning, our senses were captivated – lost to the visuals of tearing our emotional armour away, the haunting electrical current of Pippa Lester’s violin, Moana Maytrix’s piercing calls, to the incenselike scent of burning flame in the air, Memento Vivre, arrests audiences with their otherworldly movement.
With a common thread of ceremony apparent, of hooded priestesses and anointed dressed in flowing robes, to acolytes shedding their physical sins and burdens, the carefully chosen costuming of the Worship brought to life multitudes of meaning. As an attendee, their clothing reminded me of brain parasites, shriveled wings unable to fly, and the horror of being trapped within our own skin. What might you see?
It’s hard to explain Worship’s acts as a carefully told story – for each performance felt ever flowing, unsetting and emotional to watch. Despite being seated with others, watching Memento Vivere is a deeply personal show, as for much of Worship mass, it would be up to each viewer to interpret the visuals before them. However, this cryptic nature of Memento Vivere is ultimately the draw for reverent Worship audiences, as these artists focus on exploring and recognizing the darkness within, creating a brilliant showcase of the darker emotions we have all felt at some point in time in our lives.
While all were incredibly talents in their control and art, two performers stood stark in the light – Matthew Pope – his carefully controlled skill on the bar evoking both the earth that gripped him and drew him down, and the internal struggle we all feel. Later, his second appearance both stirred and unsettled me, hearing the visceral clang of heavy chains being carried and dropped, and to watch him battle and extinguish a ring of his own personal hell, almost engulfing him.
Producer of Worship, and incredibly somber and unerring, Essie Foxglove’s grieving widowesque stature stilled those watching her as she stepped into their midst. As her pitch black tears fell in her footsteps, it was a gift to watch her luminous transformation and freedom, culminating in a cathartic act of discarding her past herself.
While Worship may not be a show for all due to its interpretive nature – its impression of human loss and light will stay with you long past the closing of shadows, as Worship gives birth to a waking audience, questioning human nature, struggle and renewal.