Edinburgh Fringe 2015
“Under the gaze of ancient city walls, two piano-dueting sisters play and sing to the evening star. Their world is one of turmoil as they seek to rescue themselves and others from adversity through the power of music. With twists of cabaret and classical music influences, and some of the dark quirkiness of Tim Burton, these piano-dueting sisters lead six-piece band Vesper Walk in presenting their debut show Fallen Angel. It’s neither musical theatre, nor a standard gig. Songs, linked by narration and photography delve into 21st-century realities in an unreal, fairy tale style.”
Full of symbolism, fairytale and metaphor, The Fallen Angel Show offers us a modern myth, cloaked in music, storytelling, visual projection, with a bit of dance, drama and movement blended in.
The Fallen Angel Show has the feel of a rock-opera, drawing upon folk, progressive rock, with a retro sixties and seventies core, but also pulling in plenty of other influences, ideas, and impulses to offer up a full-hearted, superbly played bit of musical theatre. Its virtue lies in a courage to blend styles, especially traditional and contemporary and to mix genres right in front of us. They all look like they are loving what they do.
This is a story of love, loss, re-finding, reflecting and learning. Two central performers share a piano, backed and supported by bass, cello, percussion box and three backing singers who also take an occasional lead. A story unfolds, styled in fairytale and myth, but threaded into our present time. Much of the story is delivered vocally but the music and movement also add to the narrative, founded on some breathtaking, collaborative keyboards. This has clearly been a labour of love, and that love for what has been made is offered with a huge degree of tightness of focus.
It all looks a bit weird, packed into the small studio space, and the style of music may or may not be to your taste. (It was to mine, reminding me of Camel, Marillion, Sky, Nick Drake, The Enid, opera, the Beatles and even Broadway. But that is not to say this is all derivative. Vesper Walk have offered us a gig as well, a band playing songs with an art-house feel through the poetry, images, quirky theatre and movement. Their style has its own quality – a uniqueness that is happy to be playful, eloquent, dark, esoteric, but also in the wish to share a story that takes us through shadows, cruelty and hope of reconciliation.
Much of the story is progressed through a recorded voice and this production would really lift into something special if it became a full-on theatre experience. That could be achieved if the recorded narrative were delivered live – either by one or two of the performers or shared between the whole group. The percussion drum gives a strong power, supporting the music, but a live, spoken narrative would add to that. Also it was strange that the bassist wasn’t mic’d up while other performers were.
i love and value the spirit of this production but there is nothing amateur about it. That spirit offered a show that is prepared to risk both light and playful as well as deep and probing. The story asks questions of people in the modern age. We are a fractured world, also seeking coherence.
I enjoyed and was surprised by this very different musical experience in the Studio at Spotlites. It is well worth seeing. If the company take one more step and bring that powerful story live into the room, it will also arrived as full, well-rounded theatre. As it is, Vesper Walk exude a collective charisma that delivered a magical hour of musical theatre.