Germinal – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Theatre Festival Review


Take four people – three men, one woman – put them on a confined planet/strange world, have them uncover the rudiments of communication and the development of speech and music and you have ‘Germinal’, a French take on how language, thought and speech evolved. This will be one of the highlights of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

‘Germinal is both profound and whimsical. By asking us to consider classification of objects, thought, what it means to be human, it asks some of the big questions. ‘Germinal’(not to be confused with the Zola novel) is a work by Antoine Defoort and Halory Goerger that, in a French Philosophical vein, looks at the ascent of ‘man’ as he evolves on the bare stage; an imagined Universe. Much of the opening is in silence leading this reviewer to wonder where this was going. But the short wait was worth it as the mime and silence gave way to sounds and the subtitles that tell us what’s going on in the actors’ heads.

The humour is never far from the (planet) surface. There’s a riff on categorisation as to whether an object makes a ‘poc-poc’ sound when hit by a mysterious other object (in this case, a microphone). Things are accordingly classed as either ‘poc-poc’ or ‘non-poc-poc’. A laptop provides help to our pioneers as a ‘manual’, allowing them to set up a ‘Windows’ swamp or forest. The four contact an inter-galactic Tele-sales woman who tries to convince them of the need for money as a concept – and they’re not buying it; like something from a Douglas Adams book in its comic absurdity. While pondering our relationship between technology and communication, we can enjoy the humour of the situation as our four explorers dig up what they can from the rubble of the planetary surface.

There’s great use of music – the actors harmonise and, when you throw in an electric guitar, sound like an alien version of the Velvet Underground. The playwrights have said this is a ‘visual piece of theatre’ and they didn’t disappoint. They also, amazingly, say that the ‘performers are not trained actors’ – which makes the production even more remarkable. It was also a perfect half way Play between Gate-type productions and the Fringe. You leave the theatre uplifted, happy to have suspended belief for ninety minutes. You can’t ask for more than that really.

By Dan O’Neill – Dan writes on TV at tvreviewguy.blogspot.com and on Politics at danoneill.wordpress.com

If your French is up to it, see below.:

Categories: Festivals, Theatre

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