An Anatomy of Melancholy
This is one of the most extraordinary pieces of theatre that I have ever seen. The Pit is transformed into a laboratory with audience sitting in a circle watching the interplay between science, art, music, psychiatry and clinical analysis, in a concept that links the writings of Shakespeare’s contemporary, John Burton, with Freud and 2022 explorations into the mind.
Counter tenor, Iestyn Davies sings John Dowland accompanied by Thomas Dunford on the lute with overlaid text from Burton’s seminal The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Sigmund Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia (1917) and Damian Leader’s The New Black (2008). Opera director Netia Jones is responsible for this highly original concept, sharp direction, design and video design.
What is most satisfying is the overlay between science and art across the centuries. Jones’ light-touch videos never distract or overpower the staging but keeps the audience engaged in the marriage between sound, music, stage structure and intellectual enquiry in a stimulating and disturbing manner. The performance is a 75-minute reflection into our own mind which excites our neural pathways. It is haunting and magnetic. My only suggestion is that a female voice within the soundscape might have included the other half of melancholic humanity.
Julia Pascal © 2022.