Byre Theatre, St Andrews, Thu 1 Nov, then touring
Ambience is all very well as a concept, but if one is to create atmosphere, something needs to happen in it. This, in a way, was the problem for the ambient music scene a few years back – it seemed to aim for mood music, yet failed to do anything with the mood created. There’s a similar kind of problem here, in Cryptic’s production of what amounts to a concert by Singapore’s T’ang Quartet.
To a succession of modern compositions, director Cathie Boyd has added some staging, involving a cluster of seats designed like something between huge plastic shells and rotted leaves drawn into a circle, which in a smaller space might have felt intimate, but on the huge proscenium arch stage at the Lyceum, (where this was seen in August) rather cluttered proceedings. Eventually, the performers are made to walk diagonally across the stage, barefoot and resplendent in white costumes, but to little real effect. The music, though, was strong, particularly two compositions by Rolf Wallin and Kevin Volans. All the same, even given some nice effects with electronics, where the sound seemed to bounce off various bits of the auditorium, it’s hard to see what’s added to a simple recital by all the effects – the music itself is surely the ambience, and the event.