The performance was part of a five-date tour with Glasgow-based art house Cryptic, whose remit is “creating memorable experiences that engage and inspire audiences”. You always know you’re in for something a bit different when you’re handed an A4 piece of paper on the way into the gig which lists all those involved in the performance who won’t be on the stage.
Marcus Mackay was producing the show, and from Cryptic, Markéta Kratochvílová took the intriguing title of “body architect”, the performance was set by James Johnson, with lighting by Nich Smith and direction by Josh Armstrong. Then at the forefront, and alone on the stage, you’ve got Kathryn Joseph, a famously introverted and at times reserved artist renowned for her contrastingly intimate, revealing and poignant lyrics and stunning vocal talents.
This translated from page to reality on a stage consisting of a semi-circle of rectangular mirrors, looking back in at and crowding in on the piano at their centre, where Joseph would take her seat. The piano itself was fitted with further reflections above, looking back down on the musician, and Joseph was dressed in a pink, flesh-coloured trouser suit with skirt belt, and a sort of rope skeleton on top of it, made from climbing ropes and knots within knots.
Joseph herself was split between two gazes - staring directly into the audience as she played or back into one of the mirrors behind her.
The idea of wearing the inside on the out and focusing on the inescapable nature of surface emotion and feelings obviously suits itself to Joseph’s music, and the unorthodox costuming focused attention further on the ideas of grief, family illness and sorrow that haunt the lyrics of the powerful album.
Kathryn Joseph is a fantastic musician. Her latest record, particularly with live piano and the effects of the set, lighting and costume, gave a feeling of being almost troublingly-measured in a chaotic environment, with things getting increasingly frantic and closing in from every angle for the first half of the performance. The turning around and away of some of the mirrors halfway through the set, before the beautiful ‘We Have Been Loved By Our Mothers’ provided a more vulnerable, calm moment of respite and relief while continuing the same sentiments as previous in the lyrics.
All in all it was an incredibly unique show and a welcomingly-original production - like gazing through a window into the most intimate, hectic moments of an unknown protagonist’s whirlwind life and becoming immeasurably gripped and trapped in the image and emotions yourself.
A real piece of creative art from the flawless Kathryn Joseph and Glasgow company Cryptic.