I went to see the first performance of part of a show last week.. it's a song cycle that Matthew Robins is working on, and the songs are written to lyrics I wrote over the last decade or so. They are mostly songs of unhappy love and the sea, faith, determination and the solar system. The devil sometimes turns up, and so do rabbits and sea creatures (I think rabbits count as fish to some extent, why else do they keep selling them at fishmongers?) - I think of them as describing some sort of system which will become apparent as Matthew is working in his music and imagery.
The songs he and his band performed seemed just right to me. There was a serious lament about leaving someone, not just leaving them but sailing away on a big ship that grows as the song goes on, eventually bulging with provisions and cats and upholstery. There was a tale about a girl making a strangely mundane deal with the devil. There were attempts to contact extraterrestrial life for comfort. I watched and listened and noticed something taking shape that seemed familiar and alien at the same time. I really can't wait to see what becomes of it all...
The most amazing moment for me was when the whole audience rose and sang a hymn, the words of which are the last remnant of a story I wrote about ten years ago. It's meant to be sung by sheep, and I've been worried that people might take it as a slight of their religion (as in "you are all just sheep!") when actually it's just a memory of child-like faith, that time when a thunderstorm passes overhead and you are old enough to know that it's a natural phenomenon but not so old that this stops you from imagining electric fire in the sky, and thus the whole sky, and thus the earth in space in a coat of air and water and static, and you have heard about God, and you wonder if he's taking photographs, and then you wonder if that's a bad thought, and then you think all this at once, and then you sit in a corner and faith happens. It's just about the experience, and I think it worked... well, it worked for me.
Anyway, there will be more incarnations of this show as it grows, keep an eye on Matthew's website for news, and I'll also post show dates here.
Matthew also performed a whole lot of material that he's written himself. By now he's created a whole world, every story is adding a bit... it's a world with dreadful things happening all the time, but it just feels kind and warm and honest, every time I leave from one of his shows the world looks brighter for a few days. I'm very pleased to be collaborating with him - and I'm definitely learning something, too.
This performance was held at the Little Angel Theatre, which is a brilliant venue, a little house sitting next to a church amongst strange twisted trees, and it feels like great things have happened there... Sarah came to see the show, too, and she wrote about it on her blog (as usual I look completely deranged in the photographs, I must learn some time how to do a photo face!)