We won’t look at a Singer sewing machine quite the same way after Stitch, an a cappella opera for three women and three sewing machines that wrapped up its short run at the Lennox Contemporary on Sunday.
The 50-minute work, with music by Juliet Palmer and text by Anna Chatterton, takes a playful if unfocused look at women and sewing.
The strong opening, staged in near darkness by director Ruth Madoc-Jones in the gallery’s front room, featured the three female singers (Neema Bickersteth, Patricia O’Callaghan and Christine Duncan) ripping fabric and humming with increasing ferocity, like soul sisters to Wagner’s Norns.
They then led us into the gallery’s back room, where they proceeded to vocalize on Chatterton’s playful riffs on specially tailored words – “pins,” “zippers,” “dickie,” exploring each for its multiple meanings.
The whirs and clicks of the sewing machines provided fascinating percussion, and the singers rose to the challenges of Palmer’s range of musical styles, from lyrical three-part harmonies to raunchy blues numbers.
A shame the women weren’t better characterized. There were suggestions of a pregnancy here, a bit of alcoholism there, but greater narrative cohesion could have created more sparks.Imagine, too, how much the production could have gained by being set in a venue in the garment district. And how about adding a contemporary element? Women are still exploited in sweatshops all over the world. Now, that’s something to raise your voice about.
Pick of Paprika
Just in time for spring, Tarragon’s annual Paprika Festival showcases a fresh crop of up-and-coming playwrights.Chosen by new artistic producer Tessa King, the festival of works by artists 21 years old and under wraps up this weekend.Included are Ellen Ross Stuart’s Drinking Age; Rong Fu’s Manicure; Joshua Korngut’s Unfriendly Stories; Mia Yugo’s Blind Spot; Sara Farb’s R-E-B-E-C-C-A; Julia Heximer’s Summer Skin; and a staged reading of Fraser MacKinnon’s Jack And Jill.
You have five more chances to catch them so you can say, “I saw them when...” years from now.
Tickets are free but need to be reserved at 416-531-1827. paprikafestival.com.