Saturday, 24 January 2009

Kings Place: Music Melody and Text

On Thursday I went to Kings Place. It’s a new concert hall with two performance spaces. The building also houses the offices of The Guardian and Observer as well as an art gallery.

The concert was in Hall 1 and was called Music Melody and Text. It was words by Bertolt Brecht with music mainly by Hans Eisler, but also Kurt Weill and Dominic Muldowney. There were three instruments (piano, saxophone and drums) and three actor/singers. The whole thing was directed by Di Trevis, who directed something similar many years ago at the National Theatre: that was called ‘Happy Birthday Brecht’.

The evening mixed poetry and song. The subject matter was ostensibly about the rise of Hitler and the Second World War. The words of the poems and songs – although generally about very specific historical events – had a universality that relates what they said about the 1930s and 40s to the economic catastrophes and capitalist war mongering of our own times. Brecht is simultaneously a historical witness and a pertinent commentator on the iniquities of 21st century politicians and those who finance them.

The three actor/singers – Daniel Evans, Jenny Galloway and Christopher Kelham - gave convincing performances. The staging was plain yet effective. It highlighted the simplicity and directness of Brecht’s language but made clear its political and poetic essence.

The sparse audience applauded the show with some enthusiasm.

The hall itself is a good space: it is chamber music sized. The seating is comfortable, reasonably raked and nicely offset. The acoustics are excellent.