Estuary by Sean Street

Thursday 18th May
Written by Mike Morris

Estuary
, with Sean Street, Neil Campbell and Perri Alleyne-Hughes, and dancer Rachel Sweeney, was unlike anything you are likely to see again anytime soon. A visual and sonic treat, with three of the most talented people around, which combined multiple art forms that catered to every sense yet created a unified whole, and something all who attended will remember for some time to come.

The Capstone Theatre, of which Neil Campbell, himself an acclaimed classical guitarist, is artistic programmer, is a bit of most people’s cultural beaten track. But it’s worth the trek up the hill of new Islington to Shaw Street to get there. Set within the Everton campus of Hope University, it is one of the best small theatres in the city, and also one of the best equipped, and provided therefore the perfect setting for Estuary, which relied heavily upon a professional multi-media set-up to do justice to the work, and to the hard work of all those performing and creating the piece.




Although not advertised on the original bill, Sean, Neil and Perri decided to first perform music, song and poems from Sean’s earlier work, Cello. This was in part to introduce the audience to the performers, as the main event, Estuary, is a recorded set. For Cello, with Sean perched on a stool, his voice, most often soft and measured, Neil seated with his guitar and a bank of electric-pedal wizardry by his feet, and Perri, elegant behind a standing mic, it could easily have been three talents vying for the spotlight. But tonight, they moved together, and provided a seamless thread between the poems, music and song. Perri’s vocal on Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit would reduce you to tears.

Following the interval, we crowded to the centre of the auditorium to be amidst the quadrophonic sound of the four speakers. As the lights went dark the screen lit up with visuals of filmmaker/photographer/fine artist Peter Dover, seascapes, ferries, overturned boats, and more. Sean’s voice bounced gently from one speaker to another, as Rachel Sweeney appeared from the wings to provide her choregraphed interpretation of the poems, the sound and the images playing above her head. It was mesmerising, beautiful, and an amazing experience to see how well the work of a collection of artists operating in different forms can complement and bring life and unexpected surprises from each other’s work.