Thirteen – Anu Production – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review

Anu Productions thirteen

Anu’s most ambitious event to date, Thirteen is a series of plays, dance and  performance art pieces, debates and films around the city. The piece as a whole revolves around the similarities between life in 1913 and in 2013. We like to think we’ve moved on from those times, but there are still many similarities. Comparisons are made between the fire trap tenement buildings of the past and Priory Hall, between the plight of the workers in 1913 and the workers that have lost their jobs recently in the many high profile cases such as HMV and Waterstones. The wealthy and untouchable capitalists of the past are compared to the bankers and politicians of today and we are reminded that one third of all Irish kids go to school on an empty stomach today, so extremes of poverty still exist.

Anu are due huge praise for reaching so high, and the logistics of having 13 separate events on around the city are staggering. I would imagine once they get to Sunday evening, there will be a huge collective sigh of relief by the overworked actors and producers, with many of them working on several shows around the city at different times of the day.

As all events in Thirteen were free, it sold out in hours. There have been a large number of returns and people who simply don’t show up on the day, so if you’re interested, do try. I’ve already been to three shows I haven’t had a ticket for, by just showing up and asking nicely. I went to Citizen X tonight, and there was a massive crowd to see it. It’s all outdoors or on the Luas, so while it is ticketed, all you really need is an MP3 player and a Luas ticket.

There are a number of spoilers below, and these plays are best seen without prior knowledge. If you’re interested in what is worth seeing, I’d recommend Porous, Citizen x, Backwash and Constituent(s).

Citizen X – This takes the form of a Luas ride from Jervis Street to Spencer Dock, while you listen to an MP3 file you’ve downloaded on headphones, and follow the girl in the red jacket. It’s an interesting trip, as you are urged to think about the Luas, the people on board and the problems in their lives. You get off the Luas at Spencer Dock, with the Anglo building in plain sight, and follow the girl in the red jacket to her place of work.  The hoardings of various failed development blocks surround you, while your headphones play marketing pitches from the period of our collective madness.

Resilience – The use of the Georgian house on Henrietta street evokes many images of tenement living of the early 1900’s. This play takes the form of a dance and spoken word piece about a couple arguing the pros and cons of sending their kids to Liverpool. During the lock out, with families going hungry, kids were sent away from their parents to stay with families in Liverpool. This massive dilemma is captured in this complex and diverse piece.

Porous -This play takes place in a hairdressers at the back of Smock Alley theatre. You meet a trainee hair dresser and a number of her friends who are out ‘on the lock’ after losing their jobs. It is largely a monologue, and is quite touching, and focuses on the loss of identity, when you lose your job.

Suasion – This piece takes you back in time to a rally in the 1913 lockout, held in a meeting room in the bowels of Liberty Hall, where Jim Larkin and P T Daly take the stage. This tells of the role of Liberty hall during the lockout,  as you watch the bowls being laid out for the kids who come to have breakfast there every day. The final sequence brings you back to modern times, with the Anglo tapes featuring.

Constituent(s) – This is a tale of clashing worlds, which takes place in a preserved tram from 1913 Dublin in Coliins Barracks. An actor dressed in the garb of the early 1900’s tells you of Jim Larkin, but you are soon interrupted by some of the locals, who are not happy with the play that focuses on hunger in the past, when there is so much evident on the streets of Dublin today. This makes uneasy viewing, as the audience is made aware of their own lack of sympathy with those living in poverty in modern times.

Protest 1 – One of the most unusual of the series and a step away from what Anu do best. This is a game with vague rules and punishments, set in a room in No. 14 Henrietta street. An actress stands in the corner, devoid of emotion, and willing to follow any orders you set. This is a piece about control and what you decide is an acceptable level of abuse for this lifeless participant.

Protest Part 2 Like Protest, this is another performance art piece, and again I struggled with it. A woman in the window of a gallery is holding a collection of bottles in her shawl, while a member of the audience is invited to speak aloud what they hear on the headphones, which is a collection of images of the past.

Backwash – A simple story but wonderfully effective. This is linked with Porous above, and tells the tale of the last meeting between the young hairdresser and her boss. It tells both sides of the story, as the young woman who started the saloon breaks down and tells you her story of bank letters, bills and hiding it all from the people in her life.

This is only eight of the set of thirteen plays, with a few of them yet to start. An additional piece has been added every day since the series started, on Monday the 9th of September. As there are still three days left in the event, there is still time to go explore!

Categories: Free, Talks, Theatre

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