Inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953—which left the Netherlands devastated and took many lives in the UK and Belgium—this new music-theatre work explores the beauty and catastrophic power of the sea at a time of increased risk from climate change. Centered around four women (The Ragazze Quartet) who find themselves suddenly isolated from the rest of humanity, this performance weaves text from natural and manmade disasters within a poetic and sublime sonic, visual and dramatic landscape. Time is stretched, cut and reassembled in the no man’s land, which these survivors inhabit. Will these four women survive on their own, if no one knows that they still exist?
The four women of The Ragazze Quartet are the protagonists of sound, action and visuals in this energised performance, straddling the genres of concert and theatre. Oliver Coates’ commissioned score explores the spatial quality of string quartet conventions and is punctuated by a variety of recorded sounds, including ship horns and swinging lanterns. A rare account from one of the original survivors is also woven into the music, taking inspiration from the cut-up tapes of William Burroughs and the terse recursive language of Samuel Beckett. It asks the audience to wait with these developing characters as they strive for a way forward and seeks to challenge how countries affected by the extreme results of climate change have reacted and developed in order to become more resilient.