Chasing the sun

Book of Mountains and Seas
Marie-Louise Zervides, Seismograf
Fredag, 7. januar Link

The audience at Takkelloftet was sucked into a black and abstract mythical universe for Book of Mountains and Seas, a musical-dramatic work by composer Huang Ruo and puppet master Basil Twist. It was intense and disturbing with 2400-year-old Chinese creation myths, which were evoked by six puppeteers, two percussionists and twelve singers from Ars Nova Copenhagen. In the black void, the enlightened faces of the singers appeared like flying eggs, disembodied and unidentifiable. With flickering eyes, they looked ominously up to follow Paul Hillier, who was directing behind the audience, and it felt violent and almost cross-border to sit between them in a constant stream of highly concentrated chi energy.

The puppeteers moved around the choir and managed to bring life to giants, birds, suns, rivers using dead tree trunks, luminous rice paper lamps and undulating silk. It was impressively powerful, and the bodies and movements of the puppeteers gave the great abstract myths a form of humanity and visibility.

Musically, the work was split between American minimalism and Chinese traditionalism, and the interplay between percussion and voices contributed to the work's ritualistic character. Chinese sentences were sung with a Nordic accent and vowel color in conflict, and the de-selection of subtitles made it impossible for a Danish audience to decipher what was being sung about. Instead, you just had to surrender to the incomprehensible - the sounds, moods and dream images on stage.