How Like an Angel // NNF2012, Norwich Cathedral - 27.06.12
How Like an Angel has been THE hot ticket for this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival, and all performances at the Norwich Cathedral (and at Ely) have been sold out for a while.
We arrived on a sultry summer’s evening in the beautiful peaceful grounds not knowing exactly what to expect; for the first part of the evening we were given small torches and invited to explore the architecture and art of one part of the cathedral. This was pretty magical, with just candles burning around the stone walls and I noticed many aspects of the place that I hadn’t seen before. Especially beautiful was the evening light coming in through the stained glass window. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones and it created such a lovely atmosphere. The sounds of a woman singing drew us to the main part of the nave, and the performers appeared.
Three men and three women all dressed in white, of varying sizes and shapes but all incredibly athletic began to lift and carry each other, to stretch and contort their bodies into impossible shapes and demonstrate incredible strength, flexibility and gracefulness, all the while accompanied by the choir’s tender and timeless singing which both mirrored and challenged the acrobatics we were witnessing.
During one section of the evening the singers processed through the audience singing and dancing to African songs, other times they would be silhouetted high up against the stained glass window behind the altar; just amazing. Part of the time the performers were on the stage, sometimes hanging from and creating shapes mid air on ropes, ribbons and harnesses strung high from the ceiling, a bit like ballet, a bit like athletics. They played out human emotions and created scenes (such as two of the men acting out a fight all up a 10 foot pole) as well as causing us all to hold our breath several times whilst they dove headfirst from the highest rafters of the church, or dropped seemingly without control from the top of a rope, or stood 3 people high on top of each other carrying bowls of water and never spilling them.
We were totally blown away, and so absorbed that we hardly remembered we were in the Cathedral until at the very end, after rapturous applause, the back doors were flung open wide and the performers ran out, followed by the audience. A very, very special evening, which I will never forget.