Fringe World review: Sleep with Giovanni ·
Upper Burt Hall, Cathedral Square, 31 January ·
Review by Leon Levy ·
With the Fringe about to reach the halfway mark, regular supporters may well approach this imaginative presentation by the Giovanni Consort vocal ensemble as a rare opportunity to catch up on sleep without reducing their commitment to this most diverse of Festivals.
For having been invited to discard one’s shoes, take a prone position on a mat and don an eye mask, the pathway to slumber seemed unavoidable.
But as the sound — a single line at first — crept in, a powerful feeling of embarking on a mysterious journey ensured that one’s senses were on high alert. The developing and varied vocal landscape — plainsong, polyphony, forest sounds of the night, a touch of didgeridoo, moments of powerful choral harmony, all overlaid with Latin liturgy — was experience enough; but the awareness that the “creatures” responsible for these sounds were wandering amongst a defenceless, supine audience took the magic to a higher level of mystery.
Of the six categories of live performance into which the Fringe Festival is divided, Music & Musicals is where Sleep with Giovanni is listed. But that can only be a matter of convenience, for the Giovanni Consort have generated a sensory experience that extends well beyond its allocated category and represents an unexpected triumph, which is exactly what one hopes to encounter in the course of a festival such as Fringe.
Finally, it should be noted that the continuous vocal core of the programme was flawlessly executed by the consort, as was their ability to give one the creeps by moving almost imperceptibly amongst us.
Pictured Top: A mysterious journey – members of the Giovanni Consort wander amongst the audience.