We Are In Time
- Lorna Irvine
- 5 March 2020
Astonishing collaboration from Untitled Projects, Valgeir Sigurðsson and Scottish Ensemble
With an almost disarming delicacy, this new collaboration between Untitled Projects, Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurðsson and Scottish Ensemble, titled We Are In Time, is a unique production, focusing on a heart transplant and, by extension, themes of human fragility and resilience. It's kind of an opera, almost a TED talk, and a play on commonly-used tropes found in BBC television hospital dramas.
With two exquisite singers – Jodie Landau and Ruby Philogene – taking on the role of organ donor Jay and organ recipient Stella, respectively, the gorgeous live soundtrack from Scottish Ensemble (who cheekily double-up as hospital staff) pulses like said muscle, and the pizzicato string segments ebb like the flow of blood to vital organs. Sigurdsson's score is at once future-focused and atavistic, and the penultimate scene with the two strangers' voices blending together in life and death stuns the room into silence.
It's not for everyone – the unflinching descriptions of open heart surgery can induce a kind of squeamishness – but in the main, it is an insightful, deeply moving and politically engaged piece of theatre. Pamela Carter's words are wry, beautiful and at times furious, very much a comment on our struggle to connect and survive, in a time of collective anxiety over our global health crises.
Reviewed at Tramway, Glasgow. Traverse, Edinburgh, Tue 3 & Wed 4 Mar; Eden Court, Inverness, Fri 6 Mar.