Life Stories: Rest in Peace & Silent Jack
Music by Tim Benjamin
Salford Arts Theatre, 5 February 2016
Life Stories is a vibrant double bill: two operas, two lives.
In Rest in Peace a homeless man, by name Ezdeyev (James Fisher), looks back at the key moments in his life, how he had been hounded from sorry cradle to a dirty sleeping bag that serves as a sort of interim grave. We find another tormented soul in our second story, where a young woman who becomes Silent Jack (Taylor Wilson), a feared highway robber, reflects on what might have been.
The narratives were compelling and compassionate and were ably complemented by Tim Benjamin’s beautiful scores, performed live by five musicians, which showed us the drama of these two people’s lives and took us into their interior worlds. James Fisher and Taylor Wilson gave fierce and fiery performances, ending in a quietus. Silent Jack had echoes at times of William Bolcom’s Song of Black Max; for me a good thing.
In recent days the great Renee Fleming has voiced the fear that in future opera will be mainly watched in cinemas, broadcast live from the great opera houses of the world. And, in fact, the Royal Opera House had screened their production of La traviata at HOME the previous evening, which I had also seen. Though this is likely to happen more often, a cinema screen is in truth a poor substitute for the real thing: an immersive theatrical experience in the intimate environs of a small local theatre with, if you’re really lucky, rain pelting down outside…
Radius is one of the few companies creating original operas and aiming at keeping the art form truly alive. This twin production is a gem and is deserving of the widest possible audience.
Life Stories is on tour now, for future performance dates and to view a trailer go here.