Here at Ginger Wig, we have a keen eye for talented performers. Héloïse Werner is indeed one of those performers, pushing herself to incredible lengths vocally and emotionally through the piece, Scenes from the End. With her opening sequence, a beautiful soprano voice floats through the air. It seemed otherworldly, as her face and stature were devoid of the effort needed to produce that full-bodied sound. She had a very candid look about her: a messy ponytail, slightly off-centre, piercing blue eyes staring out from a face that seemed to be young and weary simultaneously. Her first notes became a repeated sequence that she finally completed, turning the “oo” of her notes into an unexpected and rushed word: “oblivion”.
The sequence garnered chuckles from the audience, but unfortunately that’s where the humour ended. The next forty minutes were torturous, and no amount of talent from the performer could stop us from becoming restless in our seats. She performed the piece in chapters, with a series of projections that accompanied each new take. A few interesting quotes about the end of humanity projected up onto the screen, and it was wholly engaging to note the breadth of writers who’d contemplated the end of our existence. From Shakespeare to C.S. Lewis, ranging from the 16th to 20th centuries, we saw thought-provoking quotes that were ill paired with unnerving performance. With the use of an alarm clock, a piano stool, prerecorded voice and a tuning fork, Werner created a sense of unease throughout the piece, singing difficult scales in addition to the unbearable ping of the fork, the drumming of the stool. She did reach a blues-inspired section, where we had repose from the upsetting sounds and were able to appreciate the flexibility of her timbre as she created a relaxed feel. This section, however beautiful, was still confusing to the audience who were perplexed by the absurdity of her other chapters.
If the goal was to create a discord reflecting the end of our existence, the goal was reached. Was their success enjoyable to watch? No, it was not. I wish I could say this was a thought-provoking piece, but in order to achieve that, Scenes from the End needed to establish a topic that the audience could interpret and question. The only thing we could think as the performance developed: when will this end?
By Ranga Liliu