Anthropocene, Hackney Empire | Review

Hackney Empire
Reviewed on Thursday 7th February 2019 by Lucy Jardine

Anthropocene opened at the Hackney Empire on Thursday 7th February. After some considerable hype and therefore a sense of anticipation, I found myself scratching my head and, frankly, was left with a sense of disappointment. 

Anthropocene is the story of an arctic expedition, with various set-piece characters: the journalist out to get his story, the pompous funder of the expedition and his wife, his daughter and her love interest (who is murdered) thrown in for good measure.... The story centres around the discovery, by the expedition team, of an ethereal being trapped in ice, who proves to be alive once the ice is hacked away. Jennifer France, who plays 'ice', was the star of the show. Her high soprano matched the other-worldly nature of the character she played; it was a joy to listen to her. 

As for the score, well, call me old-fashioned, but I like a bit of a melody. There was none, and nothing to latch on to. The most exciting parts were when all three female leads sang together, creating the only too brief and infrequent magical moment. 

The set itself was fairly sparse - some white drapes, a white ladder or two and some odd-looking red shapes at front stage left and front stage right - it took me nearly up to the interval to realise that they were meant to represent the outline of the ship and that we were therefore supposed to be inside it.

All in all, I'd say if you're in the neighbourhood, do pop along, but don't go out of your way.

Anthropocene runs at the Hackney Empire until 9th February 2019

photo credit: James Glossop

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