Review from Oamaru

 

Tucked away in the programme of events at the May Steampunk NZ Festival was a real treasure.  Here in Oamaru on a visit from the UK, I was reminded of the first film I ever saw as an 8 year old in post-war Britain – Scott of the Antarctic, a figure forever imprinted on my mind in film and story and music.  How could I imagine that 66 years later I would stumble upon the Ice Suite, an exquisite evocation of the last days of the same Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his companions?

This was a contemporary improvisation in music, digital film and voice, not on the epic scale of the cinema screen, but as chamber music, a live performance for a small audience in the Inkbox Theatre at Oamaru Opera House.  That is not to say that the impact was any the less.  This work, an hour long, took us into the icy fastness of human endurance and out with the transcendent human spirit  to the universe beyond the stars.

How was it done?  It's hard to say.  The music of the string players, violin and viola, shimmered in the cold, lamented the loss and took us to places beyond our imagination.  At the same time the images before us were of ice and snow, huge cliffs and vast tracts, morphing into old photographs moving across the screen, of men pulling sleds, maps showing their progress and how near they were to getting home, billowing tents and howling gales, sea and sky.  Through the voice of the narrator, with us in the room, we heard passages from Scott's diary, inventories of items required for the expedition, the poetry of lament.  Woven through were threads of electronic sound bringing a sense of isolation, the vast, cold spaces of earth and sea, sky and stars.  Scott and his companions died heroically; their inner journey took them to a place beyond, which is explored in this symphonic creation.

The news of the loss of the expedition was brought first to Oamaru, from where it was telegraphed to the world.  This is a local story.  If you ever get the chance to see and  hear this work, then grasp it.  The Ice Suite is extraordinary.  All thanks to Karena Wynn-Moylan who wrote the piece and spoke the words, to Ken Naughton and Cye Wood who played violin and viola, and to digital artist, Grayson Cooke.  Find them on www.theicesuite.com

                                                                                                                                       Sally Jones