Review: Hildegard Von Bingen, VAULT Festival

Boldly creative, Hildegard Von Bingen is a highly atmospheric experience at VAULT Festival

“If you would only allow me the chance to be heard”

Kristin Winters’ Hildegard Von Bingen is pleasingly unconcerned with notions of conventional biography. History books and/or Wikipedia can be your friend afterwards if straight facts are your thing but this show is defiantly a theatrical expression of Hildegard’s life, interested in exploring a more thematic interpretation of her role as a woman, a visionary, a true pioneer.

Over 40 highly creative minutes, that is what we get. In collaboration with Miriam Elwell-Sutton and Sarah Kent, movement and music combine with a somewhat gnomic script to evoke a haunting sense of mood, perfectly suited to this abstracted journey through the life of this extraordinary medieval figure, a true polymath of the highest order.

Winters, Elwell-Sutton and Kent all portray Hildegard, a multigenerational approach which pays dividends in evoking the scope of her life (she died at 81 at a time when life expectancy was 45). With movement director Gabrielle Moleta, gorgeous threads are drawn between the trio as we move through troubled childhood to silenced young womanhood to an eventual flourishing into the evolved adult self who made all kinds of history in the face of ongoing opposition.

Diaphanous drapes hanging from the ceiling suggest vaulted halls but become tools themselves – coccoons trapping the performers, barriers to the outside world. Alex Forey’s lighting and Florence Hand’s sound combine to highly atmospheric effect, particularly in characterising Hildegard’s visions, at once something otherworldly yet viscerally terrifying as a seizure too. David Cieri’s live musical accompaniment (from harmonium to wine glasses) adds another superb texture to this mesmeric work.

Running time: 40 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli
Hildegard Von Bingen is booking at VAULT Festival until 26th February

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *