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Sing, River | The Hope Theatre

How far would you go to forget your darkest memories? ‘Sing, River’ uses an original folk score combined with elements of British mythology to unearth the consequences of one’s decisions.

Gorgeous set and lighting design (Evie Cakebread) transported the audience to the depths of the Thames riverbed. Gloomy blue tones with periodic, impactful shifts to a warm dawn light helped level up the atmosphere. An assortment of random objects scattered around the edges of the stage would soon make sense once the piece commenced.

Secretly loving folk music, I found pleasure in the beautiful melodies in this show (composed by Faye James and associate, Jake Landau). With enchanting vocals and a charming persona, Nathaniel Jones will lure you to the riverbed. Hiding away from the real world and past traumas, they absorb themselves in the history of the riverbed. Exploring the stories of the discarded items, Jones brings life to seemingly mundane objects. Questioning if antiquity alone should really make an item special, or if value truly comes from the level of importance someone places on it. Also, how you determine the value you associate an item with.

Directly addressing the audience at various points, Jones’ character isn’t just blindly portraying their story, but also considers the audience’s perspective. His off comments and one liners amused me but could have been stronger. Jones explicitly acknowledged when we may be lost and his character attempts to resolve this. Although, I am unsure if this had an effective impact or if the script could have been clearer in the first instance.

Despite enjoying the songs, I didn’t find them too memorable. An exception could be made for the titular song ‘Sing, River’- those two words have been tunefully repeating in my head ever since I’ve watched it. However, I cannot recall the narrative of each song or the rhythms that were played. Whilst singing, Jones utilised a microphone but seemed to overestimate the power of this. Some of the lyrics were missed due to the quietness. Since a considerable amount of the story is told through song, this unfortunately had a significant impact. Further, the off-mic projection was inconsistent as Jones varied between loud and clear, to muted murmurs. However, this is an easy fix and will not have a long term impact on the success of this play. It just influenced my experience that night.

I appreciated the overall intention of this play. I really wanted to love the original way in which this story would be told, especially in terms of the British mythology. Yet, the messages and ideas were just not clearly conveyed to me. I understand that this show is still early in its life and at its core, I truly believe there is a good story. However, I personally believe that the delivery of the content could benefit from being reconsidered or developed to enhance the overall theatre experience.

'Sing, River' plays at The Hope Theatre, Islington until the 8th July. For more tickets and information, you can follow this link here.

AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | Photography by Katie Kirkpatrick


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