Sunder – Anu Productions – Review by Emily Elphinstone
In the last few years, ANU have built an incredible reputation for immersive, and sight specific work; using historic events as a starting point for their experimental shows. Now, following the success of last year’s PALS, the company return with SUNDER; the first show in a triptych of work for 2016 which will take place in Ireland and the UK.
Based in and around the buildings of Moore St, SUNDER focuses on the final days of the 1916 Easter Rising when, following their escape from the GPO, the rebels hid in, and tunnelled through houses in an attempt to avoid capture; bringing the rebellion firmly into the homes of civilians. Making the most of its sight specific location, SUNDER guides audience members through the heart of Moore Street, into the secluded streets and private buildings where the action took place.
Far more than a simple retelling, past and present are merged and distorted; creating a dreamlike atmosphere in which the whole city suddenly seems part of the show, and anyone could be a performer. SUNDER is certainly an ensemble piece, but special mention must go to Craig Connolly whose passion and vulnerability draws the audience into the show, converting any sceptics to the cause before they even notice.
Though much of the show takes place in public spaces, there is nevertheless a clear sense of its design; and there are moments when it’s difficult not to attempt a sneaky photo. In fact, like Moore Street itself, SUNDER engages all the senses; from the taste of tinned pear to the feel of chalk.
Though some of the more poetic and clearly scripted moments briefly distract from the hyper realistic atmosphere, reminding one that this is all part of a show; the most powerful moments are undoubtedly those in which you find yourself face to face with a performer. There is something really special in such personal encounters, making it hard to believe that other audiences will experience the same thing; and making the decision to say yes to each opportunity surprisingly easy. Some moments did not hold the attention quite as fully as others, but ultimately it’s a piece that will keep you thinking; and make you want to go back again, just to see what you might have missed just around the corner.