An unexpected gap in my calendar with a show postponement allowed an opportunity to return to a local haunt in West London last night, to see Am I A Witch by the Locus Ensemble.

The Locus Ensemble are Simone Geda (saxophone), Lucia Polo Moreno (double bass), Zacharias Wolfe (oboe/composer) and others who didn’t appear in this new production.

As Am I A Witch promises poetry and music the Ensemble are joined by actor Thomas Ghaleb and soprano Sparsh Bagpai. Together a fifty-five minute piece of discordance, words, and moments of beauty which is inspired by witches and witchcraft starts to unfold.

Ghaleb’s disturbed rhymer is Stoker’s Renfield out in the open, plagued by visions and felled by even the smallest of sounds. His acting is wildly exaggerated and his reactions set to disturb a watching audience.

Moreno and Geda display considerable virtuosity with the unusual sounds they raise from their respective instruments, but this is very modern and contemporary music and traditional melodic lines are set firmly aside.

Stage set up at the Drayton Arms
Stage set up at the Drayton Arms

Bagpai’s vocals are sublime but the lyrics are sometimes lost in a wash of noise, which is a shame. There is no question as to the quality of these performers (Wolfe’s oboe is very atmospheric), but sometimes it feels as if several unrelated pieces of drama and music are competing for space with each other.

I went into Am I A Witch with certain preconceptions about the piece – promoted as “a journey concerning the morality of witches … with new music from upcoming composers in the UK … and poetry from authors all over the world” – and found it slightly inaccessible in its current form, with just a few moments here and there that really gained my interest.

Nevertheless, the Locus Ensemble are just beginning, and Am I A Witch is just at the start of its journey. These are new creatives to watch to see what they do next. You can find out more by following locus_ensemble on Facebook or Instagram.

Am I A Witch ran at the Drayton Arms Theatre on 26-27 January.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see this show.

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