“What no longer serves you?” This is what audience members were invited to consider as they were led in therapeutic worship by a stellar cast of crew and performers in a night of celebration of the body, of being human, of vulnerability, and of our wonderful ability to shake off our shit and start over—better than before. Foxglove Productions’ Worship at The Rechabite was a feast for the eyes simply dripping with symbolism—allusive enough to be customisable to the individual experience, yet with the almost shamanic guidance of pinpoint accurate musical accompaniment and a mesmerising lighting design throughout.
The layout of the performance space was key to creating a sense of communion, ideal for the theme of worship. With two raised stages and a runway, the audience was seated all throughout the space and those lucky ones who got in early enough to grab the pews right in the centre of the action were right in the thick of things throughout. Greeted by soft purple and blue lighting, a calming introduction to this night that promised so much yet seemed so mysterious and almost scary. The main lighting set up behind the main stage evoked the stained-glass windows of traditional churches, and the use of this throughout the show was particularly good at leading the audience through the stages of death, afterlife and rebirth. Kudos to Beamhacker for the ingenious lighting installation.
The taxidermy by Preserving4thefuture was a wonderful touch to take this show from great to extraordinary, with the white doves dangling from the ceiling adding to the spectacle throughout, not to mention the jaw-dropping, almost nightmarish yet awesome costume pieces and props utilised by the performers during the show. They added to the proceedings in that one couldn’t tear one’s eyes away from whoever was performing at any point, mind spinning with the potential implications of what’s being presented.
The combination of live music by the magical Moana Mayatrix along with reverent yet incongruously industrial pre-recorded music highlighted the customised nature of this form of worship that the audience were invited to take part in. From the very beginning, Moana acted as a kind of spiritual guide to the proceedings with her incredible mesmerising voice and haunting movements. I mean, what else to expect from this consummate musician?! When she was accompanied by Pippa Lester—a badass lady with a violin later on in the show, it simply elevated things to an even higher level.
The atmosphere of reverence was curated so accurately that the audience was hesitant to applaud in between acts, lest the reverent atmosphere be disturbed. I mean, one doesn’t clap in church, after all! And yet, there was so much that was raucous applause-worthy to behold. Performers Bobby Knox, Essie Foxglove, Ginava, and Smokey LaBare hypnotised and enthralled with wonderful weirdness, such masters of movement that a narrative can’t help but unfolding in one’s head in the act of witnessing.
Darla Harland’s sultry act garnered appreciative whoops with her saucy seductiveness as she transformed into a real-life version of The Birth of Venus. Special mention to Matthew Pope for just the most incredible aerial act this reviewer has witnessed in a long time. Graceful and awe-inspiring, achieving feats that must take the most ridiculous amount of strength with seemingly no effort expended and a serene look on his face while doing so to boot.
Every performer did their part to help the audience achieve their moment of transcendence on this night, aptly and lovingly aided at all times by their acolytes Bobbie Apples and Camden Champagne. At the end of it all, no one was afraid to give a standing ovation, a feeling of gratitude and euphoria permeating from one and all, with many sticking around to have a bit of a post-worship boogie to the DJs (Nattljud and Vetch) and live music acts (BLACKANTLERS and Kim ‘Lil) who closed out the show.
If you didn’t get along to this iteration of Worship, do yourself a favour and go join in on the benediction next time Foxglove Productions bless us with this wonderful, Fringe World favourite variety show. What no longer serves you? An important question to consider regularly if one’s to live a happy, fulfilling and healthy life. Figure it out and fucking burn it, baby.
Photos by Matthew Gedling