It is a mighty long way from storytelling in St George’s Hall to a production in the Anglican Cathedral but with Jen Heyes and Cut to the Chase, and their collaborators, it is a remarkable journey.
Metaphor and irony resound throughout - hindsight is a powerful thing, or as writer/composer Ailis Ni Riain poignantly concludes: ‘the educated do not always know’. Unfortunately, there are flaws: some parts were weighed down in detail, which was skimmed over in others, and the cast members’ movement back and forth occasionally appeared aimless.
Also a projection near the end, presumably flotsam, was tricky to make out, whilst one extremely striking scene seemed out of place, particularly as it would have been most effective at the end, which unfortunately, almost petered out.
Nonetheless, you are, quite literally, embarking on something extraordinary as you make your way to the great nave; even to set the scene would spoil the effect, hence a generalised description, concentrating on praise. The production is greatly enhanced by music (Brendan Ball’s trumpet is both triumphant and haunting), by the lighting, and of course, a first class cast of ordinary folk (labourers, their wives, crew, maids etc): Nick Birkinshaw; Laura Campbell, Christopher Hollinshead, Brian Dodd and Nicola Bentley.
The focus, rightly, shows their side of the story, and research must have been fascinating. There were many curious facts and tales, perhaps not all comfortably accommodated in the narration but otherwise striking, for example, the pride involved in helping to build such a ship, and the sheer wonder.
The packed audience were clearly affected. After all, you cannot fault a titanic achievement and need to experience this for yourself – and wonder what breathtaking project is to follow.