Your Own Man/ Mad Notions – Review – Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival


Your Own Man/ Mad Notions – Review by Cormac Fitzgerald

Dates Sep 16 — 19 @ 20:00.
Tickets €13 / €11 conc.
Duration 55 mins.
Venue: Bewley’s Cafe Theatre @ Powerscourt

Luke Murphy dances through the crowd with a mic in hand. He pulls up an audience members to tell them hilarious and relatable stories of his life in New York since he emigrated from Cork. After, he breaks from this candid telling to perform a beautiful dance routine, twisting his body into contours, using smooth movement and accomplished choreography to convey the feelings that escape his words.

This is just a small sample of the various layers of Your Own Man/ Mad Notions, a multi-disciplinary one-man performance that utilises dance, music, film and photography as well as candid storytelling to give a personal account of emigration and the place you leave behind, as well as the search for identity in a foreign landscape and joys and pains that come with that. It fuses humour with moments of poignancy and intense movement to create a truly powerful experience.

Murphy is a highly accomplished dancer and storyteller. He personally greets the audience as they arrive at the theatre – which is arranged in small tables with wooden chairs much like a café. There is no fixed stage and the barrier between performer and audience is eroded from the start, as Murphy flits between the crowd, talking to them and even using them for balance on occasion. The approach creates a strong sense of the novel: that anything could go wrong at any moment and that this performance will be truly unique and separate to any others.

The story being told is that of the Irish emigrant – coming to terms with a new city and place while trying to remember the country you left behind. Murphy tells it brilliantly, conveying the loneliness and isolation that can be felt but also the freedom that comes from leaving the place of your birth. A projector is used to great effect throughout the performance – whether its cataloguing Murphy’s answers to an absurdly hilarious pub quiz about Ireland and being Irish, or being used to write troubled letters home.

Murphy is an accomplished and inventive dancer, and not surprisingly dance is the strongest part of the piece. He moves with real fluidity and ease, changing the speed and intensity of his movement, pirouetting and leaping on occasion through the crowd, using the limited space to his advantage in conveying a sense of restriction and confinement. A projected video of him dancing on locations in New York and Ireland is immensely powerful.

The soundscape created is also excellently realised – a mishmash of music, telephone calls, critics praise and sound effects, it is essential to the performance. Unfortunately a number of technical issues with the sounds (a sort of loud white noise breaking out on occasion and the mic stopping working in the middle) jarred the performance somewhat and upset the immersion. But Murphy didn’t miss a beat in adapting to the issues and it was the only negative issue of the entire performance. A brilliant piece of inventive dance theatre to tell a well-known story of emigration in a novel and exciting way.

Your Own Man/ Mad Notions

Dates: Sep 16 – 19

Tickets: €13/€11

Duration: (roughly) 1 hour

Venue: Bewley’s Café Theatre (Powerscourt)

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