Folds of the Crane/ Drawing Crosses on a Dusty Windowpane – Project Arts Centre – Review by Cormac Fitzgerald
The entire theatre goes black except for a sliver of light just off-centre on the stage. Within the space a body writhes on the floor between the light and the dark moving in jerking but elegant fits. An unsettling noise plays out loud, a sort of repetitive clicking akin to creaking doors or tiny feet scuttling along the floor.
Folds of the Crane is a piece of dance theatre both beautiful and affecting. Making great use of light and darkness, movement and shadow it creates a sort of sustained unease and sense of anxiety within the space of the Project Arts Theatre. The wide-open, un-elevated stage is perfect for the movement as the dancer flits in between the shadows, creating mesmeric patterns with her body and hands, conveying a real sense of inner-turmoil and struggle.
A pure white, half-smiling mask sits on the back of the dancer’s head, which she uses to express two sides of a single being, switching between either in sudden movements, the body seemingly jerked forward and back.
Justine Cooper is the dancer and creator of the piece. The excellent lighting is designed by Sarah Jane Shiels and the sound by Maria Nilsson Waller. The blurb of the piece says it is about “black holes, flick books and multiplicities of the self” – an exploration of movement and light, it is a powerful physical piece of movement-theatre.
After the lights go up and the audience blinks, claps and regains their senses, a woman walks onstage holding a suitcase. In it, we are told, are memories. The woman begins to tell a story of loss and memory, of the things unknown and unsaid to those close to us who have died.
Drawing Crosses on a Dusty Windowpane is a spoken word play, using a loose rhyming scheme throughout, that addresses the later stages of loss, when we wonder about the life of the one who has left us – ask the questions that will never be answered. Our narrator tells the story of her uncle – beginning when she found out about his death while in London and moving back and forward through his life and their shared life together.
The stage begins bare, with our narrator removing props from the suitcase as the play goes on. The props are beautiful in their simplicity: among them a coil of light for the main street of a town or a group of jelly babies for teenagers standing outside a sweet shop.
Claire Galvin is assured as the young Cork woman telling the story. Interacting with the crowd with ease and delivering the lines well. Occasionally this reviewer lost the train of the sentence, with perhaps too little emphasis given to the rhymes at the end of each breath. But it is a small complaint.
There are moments of great humour and touching poignancy throughout, but the performance never becomes overly-sentimental or saccharine. Dylan Coburn Gray’s script works very well in dealing with an important subject in a light-hearted, playful way without ever trivialising it.
The story unfolds gently, with the whole experience more of a meditation than a strict narrative plot. When the end does come, however, it comes quite fast – and the play does feel like it could have been longer (indeed, there is longer version scheduled for November). However, again, these are small complaints in what was an immensely enjoyable experience.
Both pieces work well together. The physicality and isolation of the first making way to the understated, communal experience of the second. An excellent way to spend an afternoon.
Folds of the Crane/ Drawing Crosses on a Dusty Windowpane
Dates: Sep 16 – 19
Duration: (roughly) 1 hour
Venue: Project Arts Centre
Categories: Dance, Festivals, Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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