Review: Cold Calling – the Arctic Project at the Birmingham Rep

I’m always looking for something new in theatre and this event was exactly that with knobs on.

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project

Cold Calling: The Arctic Project

Here Birmingham Rep had teamed up with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to mount a chamber performance of a new work, Cold Calling: the Arctic Project.

Set in the intimacy of the Studio space a group of twenty musicians from the CBSO forming a small chamber orchestra performed a score by composer and sound designer Nick Powell against an evocative projected backdrop of arctic landscapes and snowfall. In addition this was accompanied by dialogue spoken by two actors, Jan Pearson (Doctors) and Waleed Akhtar (Salmon Fishing In The Yemen) written by the piece’s director Anthony Neilson.

The performance was billed as a powerful exploration of love, loneliness and loss, as musicians and actors united to create a dreamlike yet vividly raw journey through what it feels like to be human and feel alive.

To most of us the eternal cold of the arctic is a subject of horrified trepidation – think Captain Oates and “I may be some time”. The horror writer H.P. Lovecaft used to a faint if the temperature dropped below a certain level in his native New England.

Here the combination of eerily unsettling music, enigmatic and fragmented and above all back projections of ice bound landscapes and blowing snow created an alienating spectacle against which human voices sounded all the more poignant – humanity and its fragility seemed even more so against the beautiful but snowy fastnesses of the north.

A fascinating evening. More please, more.

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