HOLST: The Music In The Spheres
by Ross McGregor
produced by Christopher Tester for Arrows & Traps Theatre
Born into a family of musicians, England’s greatest modern composer, Gustav Holst, began his career as a humble music teacher, struggling to make ends meet.
After a crippling childhood illness robs him of his vision and his ability to hold musical instruments, he embarks on one final desperate effort to write the great work that will define him and classical music forever: The Planets Suite.
HOLST: The Music In The Spheres tells the story of the man behind the music, as he challenges an elitist industry that sees no space in it for people like him. A courageous story of struggle, discovery and the need to be understood.
The Music In The Spheres is part one of Arrows & Traps new repertory season: The Dyer’s Hand.
My nature is subdued to what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.
Sonnet 111, William Shakespeare
Able to be seen individually as two independent stories, or taken as a single epic narrative experience, The Dyer’s Hand Rep Season presents two interlinking plays, told on alternating nights by a single cast, and produced by the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Arrows & Traps Theatre.
Press for this production
an intricate and inspiring production…Thoughtful, clever and beautiful – a scintillating return to live theatre from Arrows & Traps ★★★★★ Fairy Powered Productions
The central performance from Toby Wynn-Davies was remarkable. He is such a truthful player with an extraordinary talent for showing emotion. It is incredibly fine acting, matched in quality by Laurel Marks as the young Cecilia Payne… ‘HOLST: The Music In The Spheres’ is a show which sings with vibrant energy, never a dull moment. Aided by superb technical work it a show which needs to be seen to be appreciated in all its dynamics. London Pub Theatres ★★★★★
Wynn-Davies’ performance is energetic, dynamic, forceful and totally engaging throughout… A crucial element of this five-star production is the beautiful performance by Laurel Marks as Cecilia Payne. Marks is totally convincing and the mutual understanding that develops between Holst and Payne is the thread that holds the play together… The supporting cast are all excellent. It is a coherent piece of writing, passionately performed and totally convincing in its argument. ★★★★★ Spy in the Stalls
With the same intricacy as Holst, writer and director Ross McGregor has fantastically composed this performance, weaving his way through the life and struggles of Holst from childhood to his infamous The Planets Suite work. McGregor uses a mix of multimedia, abstract choreography, and a splendid cast to run through the timeline in depth, which works perfectly to tell a fascinating tale. By using a creative translucent background screen to show flashbacks into the past, alongside projected time and location stamps, it’s a really easy way to depict the differing timelines, and yet another way of McGregor’s orchestrated brilliance. ★★★★ The Reviews Hub
McGregor illuminates Holst’s struggle to pursue his almighty artistic vision… Toby Wynn-Davies is superb as Holst… Laurel Marks pairs beautifully with him as Payne, quietly blossoming under his tutelage and rightly frustrated at the limitations society places on her as a young woman. The surrounding ensemble multi-role most effectively There Ought to be Clowns
The Music in the Spheres has, as one expects from McGregor, who also directs, moments of marvellous visual inspiration and he and the six strong cast create a world it filled with crowds of people and striking imagery. It also has a very powerful performance by Toby Wynn-Davis as Holst at its heart… McGregor’s play is a splendid affair ★★★★ ReviewsGate
Toby Wynn-Davies gives a fine performance as the gentle Holst compelled to compose in his own style whilst carrying the musical legacy of his forefathers, and Laurel Marks’s performance as Cecilia Payne is thoughtful and nuanced, growing from sad, contrary adolescent to reflective young woman, moulded by Holst’s mentoring. The relationship between Wynn-Davies’s Holst and Marks’s Payne rings true; they are a constellation of two presenting the pattern of two minds meeting, something well worth seeing. British Theatre Guide
NOMINATED FOR A LONDON PUB THEATRES STANDING OVATION NOMINATION: ‘Clever writing brings the story of Gustav Holst’s most famous compositions and his connection to Astronomer Cecelia Payne into sharp focus. Along with high production values, excellent movement direction from Will Pinchin and a superb central performance from Toby Wynn-Davies.’
Holst: The Music in the Spheres by Ross McGregor
Directed by Ross McGregor
Designed by Odin Corie
Lighting Design: Jonathan Simpson
Sound Design: Kristina Kapilin
Video Design: Douglas Baker
Movement Director: Will Pinchin
Make Up Artist: Lucy Ioannou
Pianist: Richard Baker
Photography by The Ocular Creative
Produced by Christopher Tester for Arrows & Traps Theatre
Cornelia Baumann: Isobel Harrison & Mary Thorley-Stone
Lucy Ioannou: Benigna Holst & Frances Gray
Laurel Marks: Cecilia Payne
Edward Spence: Ralph Vaughan-Williams
Alex Stevens: Adolph Holst, Fritz Hart & Sydney Bressey
Toby Wynn-Davies: Gustav Holst