Tardigrade – Beckett Theatre – Tiger Dublin Fringe Review
As you enter the space, you are greeted with a large projection on the back wall of a small grub like creature scurrying. This creature we later find out is in fact a Tardigrade. A water-dwelling segmented micro-animal with eight legs. This creature in some way inspired this production, or at least it took its name from the near indestructible life form. It is a creature that can survive in the extremes of nature and even in outer space.
The opening sequence is as unusual as all that follows. A man slowly enters the space with a black box on his head, on each side of the box is a screen showing a slowly changing image of a different environment. The figure is followed by another man carrying a video projector. This projector shows an image of a dog which he projects onto the floor. As the dog begins to run in different directions the man with the projectors jogs to keep pace. The stage is then filled out by the chorus members. They wear a variety of unusual clothing, some look like they have curtains and sheets over their heads, all have long flowing gowns and uncomfortable footwear. The last three members of the cast are dancers, they start wearing a simple tracksuit and t-shirt but later are in various stages of undress.
There are sequences with a lecture, telling us the life cycle of the Tardigrade. This is complete with a slide show with images and cross sections of the tiny creature. This lecture is short lived, as the music and dance take over once more. The music is often choral in nature, with the singers making a variety of sounds before breaking into full harmony. There are other musicians, behind the main screen a small string section and a piano player off to one side of the stage. The music of Michael Gallen is one of the few controlled elements of the performance in this world of stage madness.
About five minutes into the performance, you start to hear the nervous laughter from the audience. There are a wild variety of images and you slowly realise that this production has its tongue firmly in its cheek. The man who gave the biology lecture strips off at the back of the stage, and then covers himself in pink/ mauve powder before starting to dance. The only conclusion is that it is all quite delightfully insane. There’s no attempt to stifle the images or the dress, all are at the edges of what is possible. It remains confusing and bemusing throughout and is as it was intended, wondrously bizarre.
Choreography: Philip Connaughton
Music: Michael Gallen
Video & visual design: Luca Truffarelli
Costume design & creation: Emily NÍ Bhroin
Lighting design: Adrian Mullan
Categories: Dance, Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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