Writing of McDermott’s Satyagraha in 2010, one of my colleagues wrote, ‘There are so many amazing imagesin this production that it’s hard to take them all in at once’. Here,
it’s more a case of the are so many diverse visual images that it’s hard to make them come together in any coherent way.
The sets do establish an ‘epic’ mood: coarse-grained rock textures suggest
monumental edifices and set off Pollard’s striking fabrics, face-paint and
fabulous headdresses (topped with antlers in Act 2!). Bruno Poet’s lighting
design is one of the best things about the production. On the poster
advertising this opening production of ENO’s 2017/18 season, a blade of
light slices through darkness, bouncing off granite to bathe a standing
woman, who gazes aloft as if in supplication, in a cone of light. A similar
triangle of red dissects the black drop which confronts us at the start,
gradually widening and opening up a small geometric space on the wide
Coliseum stage. Throughout, Poet sculpts his light like sliding walls, to
create mystery. Sometimes diagonal rays sear across the stage; at other
times subtle mists shimmer.
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton
Source: Opera Today