A site-specific performance begins at the beautiful St Leonard’s Church tonight (12 February), focusing on the human quality of love. But don’t mistake Sun for one of the token lovey-dovey, schmaltzy events that pepper venues around this time of year (we won’t use the V word), as it’s much more than that.
Directed by Alan Fielden and brought to life by National Art Service, as a promenade performance Sun responds to the architecture and acoustics of the space. And as a space, St Leonard’s Church (also known as Shoreditch Church) is pretty special.
The oldest building in Shoreditch, it has strong ties with the origins of theatre in the capital. The very first English theatre was close by — inventively called The Theatre (well, it was the first one) — and as well as being the site of several Shakespeare premieres, the actors who first portrayed Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard III, Othello and Romeo are all buried in the crypt of St Leonard’s.
And this is the setting for Sun. It takes place within the nave of the church. Light, darkness, sound and distance are all employed as a young girl practices her piano, a couple remember, strangers fall in love. And then the world begins to end.
The audience is invited to walk between two separate performances that explore, and encourage you to consider, what humans would keep in the face of extinction, the mortality of love, and if there’s any such thing as a love that conquers death. With no more than 40 audience members at a time, it looks set to be an intimate, unusual and visually arresting performance.