Jockey – Samuel Beckett Theatre – Review


Jockey – The Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin 2 – Review by Francis Winston

Runs until Friday 22nd May at 8pm nightly.

Tickets €22/18

From the WillFredd Theatre Company and dancer Emma O’Kane comes this piece inspired not just by the world of horse racing, as the title suggests, but also by the work of the grandfather she never knew. Phillip de Burgh O’Brien, was a bloodstock agent and a racing journalist from the 1940s–70s but he died before Emma was born. Two years ago Emma made her first foray into the equestrian world learning to ride a horse and for the past year she has collaborated with the Irish Racing Community to develop this piece. Told through dance, video footage and voice over this is compelling piece. O’Kane really pushes herself and at times her sinewy frame is reminiscent of the racehorses her grandfather worked with. She takes us deeper and deeper in to the world of racing as she explores the world of her grandfather in order to better understand him.

This is a very visceral, raw and personal piece and it shows. O’Kane is fully committed to the performance and her passion draws you in and engages you. Energetic and powerful O’Kane fully embodies the roles she plays here. The music doesn’t overpower the piece and the narrative develops at an appropriate pace. It doesn’t go where you think it will which makes it all the more compelling and when the piece is over O’Kane looks both relieved and chuffed.

You don’t need to understand the nuances of dance to draw something from this. At it’s heart this is about the exploration of family and discovering who we are. One of the most original pieces that I’ve seen this is a beautiful piece that you will be processing for some time afterwards. With a 60 minute running time it doesn’t allow itself to become stale and the pacing is perfect. Even if you know nothing about livestock or racing you will find this engaging. It is shows like this that bring dance to a wider audience and O’Kane is to be commended for it.


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