Review: Into the Melting Pot (online)

The latest film from The Telling, this concertplay by Clare Norburn is set in 1492 Spain and focuses on “stories of love, community and racial intolerance experienced by Jewish, Christian and Muslim wonen”.

Norburn and Maya Levy are the singers here, their soaring and ethereal voices adding depth and compassion to Suzanne Ahmet’s tale as the Jewish woman in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella (voiced by Patience Tomlinson).

They also clearly love the spirit and spirituality of the dance, and you may find your own smiles and peace here. This is an inspiring, affirming and powerful piece of writing (and my favourite so far of The Telling’s work).

Promotional image for Into the Melting Pot

Across one hour this latest addition to The Telling’s Empowered Women trilogy focuses on the issues women face of persecution, power and patriarchy – and the community, sisterhood and shared experiences which cut across religious and cultural concerns.

Into the Melting Pot uses the language of music and song, with its universal meaning, to underscore Ahmet’s spoken narrative. It has a sense of love, sensuality and spirituality while refusing to shy away from the harshness these women have to face.

It is an effective mix, with Emily Baines (recorders), Giles Lewin (oud), and Joy Smith (harp/percussion) providing the melody of the moment. The music itself is worth the watch.

Screengrab of Into the Melting Pot

The filming is also rich, with depth of focus and evocative lighting to tease out emotional connections. It is another example of how digital theatre can create its own energy and style.

This is a piece which seeks to put women front and centre – the musical interludes are subtitled so you can follow the meaning, the main spoken story is delivered with a sense of survival and a wink back at society’s norms.

Watch on its own or in tandem with Unsung Heroine (about Countess Beatriz de Dia) and Vision (about abbess Hildegard de Bingen). All three shows are now available to rent on The Telling’s website.


You may enjoy my review of The Telling’s web series Love in the Lockdown‘s opening episodes.