I am a big fan of Caroline Stacey's Made in Canberra initiative at the Street Theatre, even if I haven't always been 100 per cent enthusiastic about some of the individual projects. So it's nice to be able to close out the year with one which I unequivocally enjoyed.
Tamzin Nugent's The Polyphonic Bard is a sort of Baroque revue, with music by Tallis, Purcell, and others of the era impeccably sung by the Pocket Score Company, and interspersed with readings and scenes from Shakespeare. Gillian Schwab's lighting design is wonderful, often seeming to create whole new spaces, though I was less certain about the set, hung about with nooses of thick rope.
Seth Edwards-Ellis does an equally fine job on sound, most notably in the finale, where the Pocket Score guys sing over building loops of recorded choirs, to quite mesmerising and moving effect. Gorgeous voices all: David Yeardley (counter-tenor, and harpist, so clearly unafraid of stereotypes), Paul Eldon & John Virgoe (tenors), Daniel Sanderson (baritone), and Ian Blake (bass).
Of the cast of CADA students performing the Shakespearean excerpts, the sole female, Crystal Rose, despite an unfortunate blonde wig, was a clear standout, especially in her scene from Taming of the Shrew. And Nick Beecher deserves a mention, if only because he doesn't appear to have got one in the programme, and for sheer versatility - this is the fourth stage I've seen him in this year, and all in wildly diverse roles.
The music is the reason to come to this, though, and it's a shame that only four performances were scheduled - with luck perhaps we may see a reprise in the New Year, or perhaps other explorations complementary music and literature from other eras (the Victorians would be a thing of beauty, for example!) In any event: this was well worth the pittance of a ticket price.