Forge – The Vaults
Reviewed – 29th January 2020
“discipline, creativity and spontaneity collide, tension rises and falls, pace quickens and slows”
Amidst the multitude and diversity of acts at VAULT Festival, ‘Tarot’ offers a unique experience which brings together the creative talent and flair of The Feathers of Daedalus Circus, soul-funk group, Yoshi and the charmingly wry yet piquant host, Ruby Wednesday. As we enter the Forge, the underground jazz club cabaret scene is set as the band sit on stage in the semi-dark, conjuring up a mystical soundscape. Through a brief introduction and explanation of tarot, Ruby Wednesday’s seductive sharpness leads the audience into the deck of images and enigmas. The show begins. Cards in turn are defined by the host and illustrated by dramatic acrobatics and aerial expertise; the Fool dances on his hands, the Hanged Man twists and turns on the rope, hand to hand balancing depicts Strength and the Devil contorts around suspended chains. The troupe (Imogen Huzel, Josh Frazer, Tessa Blackman and Lauren Jamieson) alternate their set pieces with improvised numbers during Ruby Wednesday’s live tarot readings with members of the audience. And as if this were not enough, the eclectic band of musicians produce a lavish range of styles to accompany the pictures. Equally at home playing sleazy jazz as atmospheric ethnic timbres or electronic sound design, lead singer, Ben Smith also gives us some inspired vocal improvisation and rap.
The team works together with a refreshing lack of protagonism and there is always something on stage to watch – if not the aerial hoop or Cyr wheel, then the bassist and drummer playing a gamelan duet or Ruby Wednesday’s fiery finale. It is true that ‘Tarot’ ties together a rather random collection of skills and ideas; discipline, creativity and spontaneity collide, tension rises and falls, pace quickens and slows. But it succeeds through the abundance of craftsmanship and the unusual proximity to this kind of performance, which immerses us in the technical and inventive worlds.
Irresistibly watchable, ‘Tarot’ is original, free-spirited and entertaining.
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Photography by Rah Petherbridge