at Tramway

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A tragic storm inspires this epic music/theatre performance

Image of Shorelines
Photo: Nichon Glerum

The Sonica Festival 2017 heads into its second week with another selection of performances at Tramway. Tonight Shorelines by Oliver Coates, Ragazze Quartet and Josh Armstrong takes over the space at Tramway 1. The show is a blend of music, physical theatre and performance.

A storm during a dark and treacherous January night in 1953 is the starting point for Shorelines. The storm in question caused the tragic loss of life of over 2500 people in low lying areas of Belgium, The Netherlands and U.K. Oliver Coates is the composer of Shorelines and for the piece he has collaborated with Dutch musicians the Ragazze Quartet and director Josh Armstrong. The performance begins with the use of an overhead projector. Here we see a depiction of rising sea levels in a basic and inventive form. The rising water is drawn onto acetate which is projected to the back of the stage. The only sound is the squeak of a marker pen and this is an understated opening to an epic and grand performance.

Shorelines is a dark and bleak show. The Ragazze Quartet perform wearing black jumpsuits and the stage lighting is stark and somewhat morose. This sets the tone for Shorelines where the four performers create brooding and thoughtful soundscapes to present the anxiety and heartbreaking tragedy that occurred. The set design depicts a living room and is adaptable. As well as playing their instruments the musicians move the props and set pieces around the stage to produce startling images and to present an evocative form of physical theatre that succinctly depicts the themes of the show.

The performance takes a turn when it reaches its conclusion. The spoken word is adopted through the recording of one of the survivors of the flood. We hear the voice of Peggy Morgan, an elderly woman who recounts her ordeal during that tragic night in 1953. Her account gives the performance a more personal tone and this contrasts with the grand imagery that was previously seen on the stage.

The Sonica Festival continues until Sunday 5 November with further performances at Tramway and exhibitions and installations at various venues around Glasgow.