Review: In Our Bones

The Vaults
4 star rating
An unusual and genuinely moving song cycle evoking the loss of connection with the landscape and the earth, in a provocative and thoughtful blend of music, vocals, poetry and painting.
In Our Bones from Diniwe and The Hadedas at Vault Festival

Image courtesy Diniwe and The Hadedas

Show details

Show information

Theatre The Vaults

Closed here Thursday 5 March 2020

Cast and creatives


Freddie Crossley: Accordion, Keyboard, Trumpet, Clarinet, Vocals

Femi Oriogun-Williams: Guitar, Keyboard, Clarinet, Vocals

Alice Hartley: Live Painter

Finn Boxer: Guitar, pedals, Wasp Keyboard, Vocals

Will Langstone: Cello, Pedals, Vocals


Co-Creators: Freddie Crossley, Femi Oriogun-Williams


"We wander the sunset plains, like nomads awaiting the rains".

Four musicians and a painter imagine an astonishing and beautiful vision of hope in ecological crisis.

Processed through formulae and machine, set free in imagination and music, Diniwe and the Hadedas explode a single poem by Don Paterson in a song-cycle that speaks of migration, landscape, roots, heritage and home.

A multimedia collaboration collaging voices, song, poetry and paint, calling for action on the most pressing issue in the last ten million years.

Profound, ridiculous and beautiful.


Supported by Theatre Royal Plymouth.

About Diniwe and the Hadedas

Diniwe and the Hadedas are a multimedia collective working in Visual Art, Music, Text, Theatre and the in-betweens.

Based in the South West, their previous work has toured to festivals in the UK and internationally.

In Our Bones was made and performed at The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth and originally commissioned by the University of Cambridge.

In Our Bones is performed and written by sound, radio and podcast editor, sound artist, writer and musician Femi Oriogun-Williams, and artist, director, potter, chef, performer and musician Freddie Crossley.

For these three unique performances, Femi and Freddie collaborate with multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer Finn Boxer, cellist, composer and radio host Will Langstone aka Armed With Bow, and artist, Alice Hartley.

Alice Hartley will paint a huge 4x3m backlit painting live throughout the performance.

Alice was selected and exhibited in New Contemporaries 2014, and has exhibited across the country, throughout Europe and North America.

This show will be operated by Belgian sound and lighting designer Jeroen Wuyts.

Jeroen usually works for award winning, internationally touring companies Ontroerend Goed and SkaGen.


ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Performance date: Tuesday 3 March 2020
Review star rating image

This year's array of offerings at Vault Festival is even more diverse than ever with over 600 shows providing almost unbridled variety with something for everyone.

That variety can throw-up unusual offerings that are neither easy to pigeon-hole or define precisely - In Our Bones is one of those shows.

On the face of it at least, this is a gig.

Or, to be more precise, Diniwe and the Hadedas describe their show as a song cycle.

Think of it as a series of songs and tunes strung together as a unit and you'll pretty-much get the basic idea.

Perhaps that doesn't sound so different to a typical kind of set from a group of musicians.

However, In Our Bones has a theme running through it and employs various media.

It's essentially about "our landscape ... [and] ... about the earth we inherit from the past and the earth we choose to leave for the future".

That, of course, is both of topical interest and powerfully relevant given the precarious state of our planet and the fact that we urgently need to take action to prevent global catastrophe in the future.

Underlying the song cycle is a poem by Don Paterson, and the overall approach combines music, technology-derived sounds and spoken word, as well as vocals.

Four musicians front the presentation, but another unusual and interesting feature finds Alice Hartley painting a large-scale picture in the background (you can even buy the finished product, as we're told at the end of the show).

Have a look at the cast list above and you'll see the variety of instruments this musical fusion involves.

Like many of the productions at Vault Festival, In Our Bones runs for around the 1 hour mark - ample to make a statement and considerable impact, but certainly leaving me wanting far more.

And so it seemed for the rest of the attentive and appreciative audience who were equally struck by the evocative strains and compelling motifs generated throughout the piece.

In Our Bones isn't easy to summarise or explain precisely and I suspect it's the kind of show which will affect and touch people in different ways.

It starts rather mournfully suggesting a loss of understanding about and appreciation for our natural surroundings - connections that our ancient ancestors would have valued and respected, even if they couldn't explain them.

Those ancestors seem reflected in Alice Hartley's work which is backlit as cave paintings might have been effected and comprising hues that could easily be from natural substances like soot or clay.

Additionally, as we move through the captivating songs, we find tunes improvised using various implements, including paintbrushes and the rustles of thumbed books, as might have been produced in the music of indigenous people.

Sadly, there are only two further performances of In Our Bones at Vault Festival, but this is a show that's certainly well-worth experiencing as it offers a unique take on our relationship with landscape and nature - one that doesn't brow-beat or harangue us into submissive guilt, but rather engages with us to consider lost connections and in doing so inspiring vital hope and possibilities.

And with a captivating mix of fine musical and vocal talent, the show creates evocative mood and atmosphere that proves genuinely moving, thoughtfully provocative and totally absorbing too.

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