Théâtre de Complicité / Emerson String Quartet, The Noise of Time

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

The Noise of Time is a collaborative production that explores the dramatic and personal contexts of Shostakovich's 15th string quartet. Directed by Simon McBurney, it uses an extensive voiceover soundtrack, and a simple visual and physical dramatic counterpoint to the music and the words, to conjure the spirit of the composer – both the essence and the ghost – and to give him a voice that asks the audience to listen beyond the notes of the music and into its heart.

The performance opens with four of the Complicité ensemble alone on stage, in a tightly choreographed and textless sequence of movement and rhythmic interaction. Set against a shifting orange backdrop, the silhouetted figures display great physical skill in evoking the clearest of moods with the simplest of gestures and movements. Flickering between stillness, slowness and joyful intensity this opening segment is followed by the entrance of the four players of the quartet itself, who perform the timeless, arching death-dominated opus as the rest of the piece.

Accompanied still by the other performers, and by gradually appearing images projected against the back of the set – following Mnemonic, projection seems to have formally entered Complicité's visual vocabulary – the musicians form a calm and intense centre at the heart of the work, which is a strong and confident attempt to find the musicality of movement and image, and the dramatic heart of a piece of classical music.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jul 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 26 - 27