On a warm, summer evening in Abney Park Cemetery, a wild forest with tombstones springing from every inch of earth, a small group of people gather in a glade, dappled sunlight glancing off bare skin and clutched scripts. We come to a clearing, where seven figures are waiting, lying across broken woodland, perching on battered trunks and standing in the grass. They look to us, expectantly. And, with their voices just loud enough to hear above the soft breeze, they begin.
Blueprints combines the affecting writing of Emma Jarvis – inspired by EE Cummings’ dreamily romantic poem I Carry Your Heart – with Sophia Priolo’s careful direction to produce a gently stirring performance that works in perfect harmony with its stunning natural setting. We look on as the seven figures wander, caught in a moment, eyes wide and gaze turned to the sky, seeing something we can’t, and the effect is truly ethereal; there is an unworldliness in the way each performer floats on the breeze, and trails an arm around another, before breaking apart with a single word. There’s a wonderful moment where one of the performers, Victor Ngo, turns to us in excitement, and looks up at the sky, eyes bright and shining, and the sun breaks out from the clouds, dousing him in what seems to be nature’s spotlight. Priolo is our Mother Earth, gliding between the cast, hair drifting in the light breeze, sharing poetry with both utter abandon and secretive pleasure.
The effect of the diverse age range of the cast is rather like one of a family; old and young, quick and hesitant, draped over tree trunks with arms and fingertips touching, pushed gently by the wind, crying out in verse and question and confusion. It seems awash with a feeling of light magic that carries each interaction with a kind of lost beauty. It’s a collection of real, little happenings occurring all at once, before our eyes, with vine-wound tombstones and forest trees hanging as the backdrop. The piece itself is completely new, and breathes quite tangibly, and in harmony with its forest setting; neither working against each other, but together, perfectly complimenting the other, the text and the earth. A real must-see for a gorgeous, late summer evening, when you have the desire to be carried away- just a little.