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Can A Ghostlike Wraith Make A Dream Come True?

The Dream of Henry Blight

Presented by The Department of Truth

Written by Keith Sparrow

With this new film creation ‘The Dream of Henry Blight’, Keith Sparrow has added another string to his bow. Truro based Keith is a Manga artist and teacher as well as a popular performer and writer whose work covers a variety of genres, from pop up storytelling with the colourful Story Republicans to the fantastic homage to the genius of David Bowie with The Bowie Lounge.

Initially Keith wrote ‘The Dream of Henry Blight’ with plans to perform live to a backdrop of black and white photographs – the combined work of superb photographer Neal Megaw and Keith himself. The piece was due to be premiered at the new Popp Theatre (Gwaryjy) in January, sadly all bookings fell victim to yet another lock down and the hotly anticipated show was cancelled.

Covid repercussions have worked in mysterious ways and so it was with ‘TDOHB’; any hopes of live performances in the foreseeable future were instantly dashed when the Popp show was cancelled. Down, but definitely not out, Keith determined to get Henry Blight to audiences one way or another. Initially he thought of recording the show using the large stock of photos, but son Joe had other ideas and brought his own considerable artistic and design skills to the table by creating a couple of short monochromatic animated test sequences. The soundtrack to the live performance of Henry Blight had already been written and recorded by Keith’s equally talented music producer son Frank, whose industrial electronica soundscape perfectly complemented the hypnotic footage being put together by his brother. Keith was excited by the test pieces and gave the green light to transform his original plans into film, adding a bit more of his own artistry by creating Gothic style title cards to the footage.

While Keith performs the songs on TDOHB, actress Elaine Claxton is the perfect choice as narrator, Elaine’s beautifully spoken words are mesmerising.

Musician, composer and lecturer Andrew Harris brings in a haunting piano piece adding a softer dimension to the industrial electro soundtrack.

Giving a brief overview of The Dream of Henry Blight is all I can offer without giving too much away as people should fully experience The Dream of Henry Blight for themselves.

Henry Blight lives on Falmouth’s Killigrew Street, where he is a non person, a wraith of a man who lives a lonely, unobserved existence in the busy coastal town. The ghostlike Henry has a long held dream to find the perfect companion and only a mermaid can fill his empty heart; Henry’s quest sends him to the shoreline in a nightly search to make his dream come true. Sea monsters, space hardware and coastal debris all make an appearance in Henry’s dream while the grim structures of imposing dockyard cranes are a reminder that Falmouth is a working port. Does Henry find his elusive mermaid? Will he ever be happy on Killigrew Street? The answers are in the film – absolutely no spoilers here.

The Dream of Henry Blight is the first production from The Department of Truth, which Keith says will be an evolving company – an organisation of fluid membership and ideas. Plans for the second production are full steam ahead while Keith is also keen to highlight work by other artists with no restrictions on artistic content as long as the work is honest.

Having mentioned David Bowie at the top of this review, and for those who are unaware, Keith Sparrow is a massive Bowie fan – hence the birth of The Bowie Lounge, alongside like minded musical and artistic performers. Indeed, Elaine Claxton and Andrew Harris are both fellow Loungers.

Millions of people are Bowie fans, but very few carry Bowie inside them; Keith Sparrow is one of those fortunate artists. On stage performing in the Bowie Lounge he becomes Bowie; The Dream of Henry Blight is a production that Keith and his team should be delighted with, a Bowiesque piece that the Thin White Duke would wholeheartedly approve of. Surreal, darkly beautiful, a wonderfully compelling story told in words, music and visuals.

How can you access this brilliant work? The Department of Truth will soon be sending the online access code to anyone who bought tickets to the live performance of The Dream of Henry Blight, a couple of weeks later it will be accessible to wider audiences.

It should be noted that this amazing production is completely self financed by Keith Sparrow, hopefully he will attract Arts funding on the back of The Dream Of Henry Blight.

Sheila Vanloo

March 2021

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