There isn’t much that can prepare you for what you will experience from soprano star Heloise Werner’s Scenes from the End, except an open mind. If you’re not immediately thrilled by the thought of a one women opera, and let’s face it, not many of us are used to the concept, then I would urge you to give it a go.
The three part opera, featured at this year’s Camden Fringe before popping on its gutties and heading up to Edinburgh, takes you on an intense and powerful journey of grief. Dealing with the immensity of the universe, to human disdain for civilisation and eventual personal agony. The message is clear; we are nothing, yet we are everything.
Admittedly, at first it wasn’t easy viewing, Werner doesn’t hold back on her audience, offering a baptism of fire onto the contemporary opera scene. She addresses you directly with her powerful resonance. Yet at the same time it is to Werner’s credit that she relaxes you into the performance, allowing you to appreciate the nuances of her delivery as the show progresses.
Throughout you are transported into something you weren’t expecting – and if it weren’t for the occasional car horns and whirling sirens on the other side of the theatre wall, you could well be lost in time, swallowed up by the intimate yet profound atmosphere she creates, mimicking the nothingness of the universe.
Werner moves on to explore so brilliantly the human apathy that we have for our own life. She delivers on this huge subject with comedic nonchalance, capturing the mundaneness of everyday life as the human race is caught sleepwalking into the end of humanity. This is where the performer is at her best. Her witty take on the issue allows the audience a collective reprieve, drawing you in and putting you at ease with her theatrical charm.
And then the anguish of personal grief, displayed so passionately by Werner, who has herself talked openly about the recent feelings of loss she’s experienced. The pain is almost tangible, but she has left no stone unturned here, delving into the depths of expiration down to the last breath. Directed by Emily Burns, with words and music by Jonathan Woolgar, the production is simple yet compelling; drawing you in to the emptiness that often partners grief.
Prepare for it to be 45 minutes lost, but 45 minutes where you will be happy to be lost, for the clarity and profoundness that’s imparted upon you may feel strange, it will be wholly eye opening.
Scenes from the End
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