For 90 minutes, Q Theatre was transformed into an enchanted cave as Claire Cowan's Blackbird Ensemble explored the phantasmagorical world of Icelandic singer Bjork.
Bjork: All is Full of Love lived up to its title, taken from the evening's final song. It was certainly a labour of love from Cowan and her hip chamber orchestra whimsically attired by Elizabeth Whiting in countless shades of white, sporting such accessories as angel wings, hoods and flashing fairy lights.
The aggressive electro beats of Bjork's own recordings can overwhelm but Cowan's delicious arrangements for strings, reeds and percussion, with her own harpsichord and harp as well as subtle electronic overlay, enabled four singers to expose the very human heart of these ballads.
From her opening Bachelorette, Jessie Cassin gave us our first taste of cabaret fervour followed by the cool sheen of Anna Coddington, introduced by the "brolly beats" of an umbrella being opened and closed, just one of the many ingenious percussive touches, from tapped typewriter and rattled crisp packets.
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If TEEKS' brand of laid-back soul didn't quite convey the edge of Bjork's originals, a spry-voiced Sarah Belkner was an impish delight, from her kittenish exploration of Venus as a Boy to guiding us through the dark forest of Isobel, magically illuminated by the band around her.
The bijou spectacle of Blackbird Ensemble is something to hear and behold and it was in good form, with frisky fiddles and punchy saxes, dominated by the free-blowing Callum Passells. Don't miss out on the magic.
What: Bjork: All is Full of Love
Where and when: Q Theatre, until Saturday (two shows Friday)
Reviewer: William Dart