Jocelyn Pook’s Hearing Voices is a series of musical scenes with mental health at its heart.
The text – a mixture of live vocal and recorded spoken word – is complimented by a resourceful score that is touching, haunting, and playful. The score is accessible, committed to melody, and succeeds in healing its audience with blissfully soothing sonorities. The illustrative soundtrack is enhanced with a rich combination of live instrumentals and vocals.
Such a clinical description might make it all sound very worthy. Don’t be misled. Hearing Voices skilfully avoids pomposity. This isn’t a po-faced lecture about mental health issues. Far from it. The reality is beautiful and celebratory. There are even laughs.
Much of this is down to the score – the Reich influences, the luscious strings and clarinet, and the effortless interweaving of mezzo soprano and live instrumental ensemble. Pook’s orchestration is deft. Forty-five minutes isn’t really enough. Couldn’t she write something a bit longer?
Melanie Pappenheim plays a number of characters throughout the production. She is an engaging performer whose characterisation tells a captivating story throughout.
A highlight of my cultural year, and a deserving reserving recipient of my first ever Thoroughly Good star rating.
Photo credit: Zoran S Pejic