WHACK!! – Project Arts Centre – Review


Philip Connaughton & Ashley Chen present –

WHACK!! – Project Arts Centre

25 February 2016-27 February 2016 8.00pm – Tickets €10 – €16

We are introduced to the first of the dancers as he emerges on stage in y-fronts, t-shirt, socks and runners. There is a pile of shoes left at one side of the stage. When the second dancer arrives in similar attire, running triumphantly with his arms aloft, the first takes the opportunity to pelt him with the shoes! He throws them at the other dancer who largely ignores the impact, continuing to run. This is the first scene in the ongoing battle between the two protagonists Philip Connaughton and Ashley Chen. The reasons behind their war is never made clear, nor are the reasons for the moments of calm between the various storms.

After a short break and costume change, the two dancers come back on stage with more formal attire. They wear matching suits and ties but another strange logic grips them as they drag, push, pull and kick each other from one side of the stage to the other. There is a formal structure to what is happening, rules within their game but the actions are energetic and occasionally violent.

The stage starts quite barren but by the end is filled with the scattered shoes. The lighting varies in subtle fashion, the music is quite repetitious with one lounge song playing for long segments of the piece. There is often no music, and all that can be heard is the panting of the two dancers, both near exhaustion from their ongoing assaults.

Connaughton said that the piece aims to explore the “idea of obstruction, and how one body can control, redirect or suppress another”. It makes for a most unusual performance. At times it is not quite dance but a physical performance closer to wrestling. At other times it is more structured with coordination of movement between the two. There is much nervous energy in the audience as they are unsure how to react to what is on display. If you are willing to take a risk, it is certainly something unique with a variety of images and movements that are rarely seen. Let the battle commence!


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