There’s always something a bit new and different from Against the Grain Theatre and often it’s a pleasant surprise. So I was prepared to take a punt on a collaboration between them and “baroque-pop” artist Kyrie Kristmanson around the launch of her new CD Modern Ruin.
The program last night was in two parts. First up was, essentially, a dance piece created by stage director Amanda Smith. Percussionist Nathan Petitpas, dancer Mary-Dora Bloch-Hansen (who choreographed), and baritone Adam Harris, performed arrangements for marimba and voice inspired by French song. This was playful and funny with balloons and a lot of clowning around. I guess the theme was “flirtation” which makes a lot of sense as an intro to the performance to follow. I very much enjoyed this piece.
The main event though didn’t work for me. Modern Ruin is an album of songs for voice and amplified string quartet inspired, apparently, by the lost songs of the women troubadours of medieval France (Provence and Aquitaine but still…). The medieval-pop blend is supposed to “evoke the ghost of Aliénor d’Aquitaine, protector of the trobaïritz (female troubadours).” Neither lyrics (a mix of French and English) nor the music did this for me. I could go on at length about why but won’t. I’m just not the audience for this kind of pop I guess.
Photo credit: Jonathan MacArthur