Treasured is an ambitious new work that takes place in the nave of Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral. Inspired by the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, it uses a combination of theatre, large-scale film projection, music and aerial performance to tell the tale of ordinary folk caught up in one of history’s most extraordinary disasters.
The audience began their evening with a ‘journey’ – an atmospheric and evocative wander through the cathedral space, where actors posed in vignettes. Taking a seat in the nave, faced in the opposite direction to the way the pews are usually, was disorienting and added to the sense of wonder about the piece. It was less a stage than a catwalk, as the main performace space was the shape of an upturned ship’s hull; the show began with the entrance of RLPO trumpet player Brendan Ball, providing the haunting, often quite experimental soundtrack for the evening (if you were sat at the front, the acoustics of the massive venue meant earplugs would have been beneficial for the first solo performance, although this was abated as the musician later retired to the back of the stage area).
The film projections are for the most part an impressive highlight — beaming flying birds around the high ceilings, or the ship’s blueprints, passenger lists and most impressively, the launch of the Titanic itself.
A core cast of four actors carried the bulk of the story, some playing multiple characters and others sticking to the one role. The sinking of the infamous liner is conveyed in the abstract through the talents of a performer from Wired Aerial Theatre, hoisted up to a stomach-churningly impressive height.
There was plenty to see, hear and take in watching Treasured, and some parts worked better than others; but for many the main draw might have been the opportunity to see this unusual show unfolding in the cathedral space. A scene where the cast begin reeling off names of those lost at sea as the names writ large on the cathedral walls was a poignant reminder of the more admirable qualities of human nature — 100 years on, we still feel compelled to remember the dead and their stories. It would seem there could be no better a place to consider such concepts of compassion, empathy and respect for fellow man than a sacred space.
Treasured runs until Saturday (October 6). For tickets and more information, visit www.atreasuredevent.com.