The Circus Animals’ Desertion
4 STARS ****
Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin 2. Until 8th October 2016
Oct.8th: 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Runs 70 mins, No interval.
TICKETS: +353 1 6778439
Review: Anne O’Leary 6th October 2016.
Slow cooking creates a very tasty dish
This production does not readily fall into any particular art-form. Described on the programme as a “dance theatre performance”, it also has strong elements of mime, spectacle and spoken word and an appealing dance score. The diversity is not surprising since the genesis of this project ( in the making since 2007) was a show based on the plays of WB Yeats but has evolved into a performance based on his wider writings, which cover themes of philosophy, history, astrology, eugenics and an obsession with the occult.
Brokentalkers Artists have managed to include an element of all of these into the show and merge them with his drama and poetry. Despite the melange, the show has a definite structure and a clear dramaturgical arc.
It opens with a body laid out on a plinth and covered by a white sheet. He is slowly raised to life by another performer and he proceeds to a camera and microphone at the rear of the stage and sings while an image of his face is projected onto a large screen.
A life story inclusive of birth, marriage and death is then acted out by performers. Of course this cannot be a linear narrative since Yeats was obsessed with circles and gyres. Masks are used throughout also.
The music by Sean Millar is original and deserves particular mention. Three musicians (also wearing masks) are contained in a glass cage at the side of the stage playing violin and cello.
This music provides the rhythmic sound effects to propel tension and to set up situations through skilful changes of speed. Since the dancers are barefooted and there is no exchange of conversation and minimal props, the music has to compensate for the absence of ambient sound through an unusual amount of dissonance and impeccable timing.
Yeats was a prolific writer of plays throughout his life. Compared to his poetry, his drama has had a very uncertain critical reception being considered too symbolically inclined and unnatural. However this production proves that Yeats difficult work can connect and be adapted successfully to contemporary theatre practice.
Directed by: Feidlim Cannon & Gary Keegan
Performers: Deirdre Griffin, Saara Hurme, Rebecca Journo, Eddie Kay, Martin McCann
Music: Sean Millar
Choreography: Jessica Kennedy
Producer: Hugh Farrell
Costume Design: Sarah Foley
Lighting Design: Stephen Dodd
Sound Design: Jack Cawley
Projection Design: Kilian Waters
Musicians: Jane Deasy, Lioba Petrie, Maud Ní Riordáin