Review: Gothic, Arts Centre

Thuy On

The musicians and the singers combined offered visceral, emotive, and powerful performances.
Review: Gothic, Arts Centre

Presented by the Arts Centre Melbourne Gothic.

Gothic: a word that conjures up all manners of iconography – medievalism, horror, death, and superstition. It’s a broad term, and a particular aesthetic that Artistic Director Andrée Greenwell, who also composed and arranged the songs, was inspired by, in this hour-long tribute, a 'journey through Gothicism in music.' However, don’t be fooled, this was not a thrash heavy metal concert, oh no, this was far more Sunday afternoon than past midnight revelries.

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Picture a live orchestra (violins, cello, viola and electric guitar) and two singers on stage (Greenwell herself and Jessica O’Donoghue), all in black of course, and the arch windows behind them transformed into a moving screen.

The material chosen for re-configurating was eclectic indeed, taken from literature, pop music and original scores across the ages.

Gothic began with ‘Annabel Lee’, a poem composed by Edgar Allan Poe about the early death of his wife, and ended on the particularly haunting strains of ‘Falling Music’, the theme song of Twin Peaks. In between, running after one another without explanation (luckily there was a program available to refer to later), was a series of short pieces that were in various ways, macabre or troubling, like an almost unrecognisable creepy arrangement of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’; a composition based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story ‘The Birds’; and spoken words about the death of Brett Whiteley (who overdosed in a motel). A standout highlight were the two vocalists teaming up for Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, inspired of course by Emily Bronte’s novel. There was even a fun and surprising take on ‘Thriller’ … yes that Michael Jackson song.

The musicians and the singers combined offered visceral, emotive, and powerful performances and the accompanying graphics displayed of gothic tropes – blood, ravens, fog, lost and demented souls, bells etc. – were figurative, expressive and metaphorical.

Gothic is a show about the dubious lure of the dark and the scary and the disturbed, and it will draw you in and encourage a slightly faster heartbeat too.

4 stars ★★★★
Gothic
Presented by the Arts Centre Melbourne 

25 November 2018  
Playhouse, Arts Centre

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Thuy On is a freelance literary journalist and critic and the books editor of The Big Issue.