Quite appropriately, the opening of Miraculous is a series of heavenly songs performed by the “Peace ‘n Choir” singers, led by Ann Bermingham. These songs preface a multi-layered production of music, movement, and drama collages that explore notions of the miraculous. In particular, Miraculous explores sightings by three young children who heard voices and had visions in 1916 and 1917.
This performance was a project of Access Arts, a group created to support the artistic and cultural aspirations of people experiencing disability and disadvantage. And despite being the result of only 34 hours workshop contact hours, this production is marked by strong performances and high production values; and showcases an exploratory approach to theatre.
The preface of choral music and the “background music” provided by the choir effectively enhance the play’s disturbing and strangely beautiful ideas. A series of scenes tells the story of the children’s visions and the “trials” they underwent in the form of community reaction; and the play effectively explores human reaction to phenomena we don’t understand.
Director Marcus Hughes’ striking stage imagery and stillness is enhanced by Geoff Squires’ sophisticated lighting states; and the performances are full of vigour and sincerity. Sometimes this intensity leads to a “rushed feeling” (particularly in the interrogation scene) but the high emotional pitch of the acting does suit the heightened drama of storyline.
As an observer of a “workshop” performance which is as much about the performer’s experience as the audience’s I can tell only half the story … but from my side of the footlights this was a moving and thought-provoking experience.
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