Perhaps all the Dragons – Dublin Theatre Festival Review

Perhaps All the Dragons

Perhaps all the dragons | Smock Alley Theatre | Oct 7 – 11

As you enter the banquet hall in Smock Alley, the strange contraption is revealed. It is a series of tables joined to form an oval with a canopy above, looking like something from a fun fair. Each of the tables has a screen facing inwards with a chair in front of them. There is initially no entrance to the internal space, so you are left to wander the outside of the structure and marvel at it. There is a nice feeling of anxiety as you wonder what you are about to see, or how it all works. After those initial moments, the entrance is revealed and you are left to choose your chair. This is done completely at random and will decide the story you are about to be told.

It is a series of video monologues from some fascinating people. They are specialists in their field and talk to you about an idea or concept that is dear to them, something that compels them. They speak in their native tongue with subtitles in English and are from all corners of the world. The experience of each audience member is unique as you meet different members of the cast in a distinct order. There are 30 screens and you will only hear five of the videos, which last about ten minutes each.

The piece explores the idea of six degrees of separation, that you can link to any person around the world in only six moves, through people you know on a first name basis. The piece lies somewhere between fact and fiction, and you are never quite sure how much of it is real. There are some interesting tricks and devices used that draw you out of the story, and back into the theatre space. The sound design is such that you can only hear your speaker if you sit close to your ‘talking head’. You sit upright and stare into their eyes, analysing them, looking around their face as you would never dare with a real person. There is an unusual feeling of intimacy, due to your proximity with the screen.

On the night, I saw a man talking about an opera production made during the second world war, another talking about the raising of a nuclear submarine from the depths of sea and another who studies body language for a living, to name but a few. If you had sat in a different seat to begin with, your tale would be quite different, but there are a number of features common to all tales. This piece is by Belgian company Berlin, and it has travelled around theatre festivals world-wide. As there are no live actors on stage, many people will not consider this theatre, but it is certainly a performance and something quite unique. It is an interesting piece that will live long in your memory.

Perhaps all the dragons | Smock Alley Theatre | Oct 7 – 11

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