John Woolrich, photo by Maurice Foxall

John Woolrich

Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit is a mask/mime music-theatre work for actors and musicians, jointly devised with Trestle Theatre Company and Writer/Director Toby Wilsher, Trestle’s Artistic Director, with music by John Woolrich.

Thomas Adès on John Woolrich’s music…
In the big fight, machines and humans might be considered to occupy opposite corners. Look closer: machines are made by humans, and our designs reveal our desires. A Woolrich timepiece,machine fleur or gismo whirrs and clicks with personality: the composer’s, abundantly, but also that of an unnerving simulacrum of the listener, whether willed or not. Apparently transparent, impassive, these mechanisms surreptitiously put us in mind of ourselves; they evoke the machine within us, as well as the ghost, the phantom human, which inhabits their quartz-and-crystal actions. An Affair of the Heart might make a music of spasming tissue, of the pulse and swish of vital fluids, without moving us any less mysteriously than it would as a smoothed song of lovesickness or loss.

A machine, as everyone knows, can “have a life of it’s own”. Machines, like humans, can be capricious; like humans, they can destroy. However seductive their neutrality, however tempting their offer of urgeless order, to trust them may prove lethal. When that little box, that delicate organ, stops ticking…

Woolrich’s invention never flags… – it is rare to hear a first performance that sounds so assured and enthusiastic. But those are the qualities we are learning to expect from BCMG.
The Guardian

First performed by BCMG conducted by Thomas Adès at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 29 / 30 May 2000.