Singspiele – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Dance Festival – Review
Wed 24th and Thur 25th May – Singspiele (Maguy Marin) – France | Irish Premiere
Dublin Dance Festival continues until May 28th
Choreographed by Maguy Marin and performed by David Mambouch
The stage contains a raised platform with a white backdrop. There are three small lockers spaced at regular intervals. Above each locker are three hooks from which an assortment of garments hang. David Mambouch is crouched beside the right hand locker. His own face is hidden behind an image of a face, printed on an A4 sheet positioned in front of his head. He gradually rises to the vertical. He is scantily clad in y-fronts. His body movements are in tune with those which one would expect from the printed face. He takes from one of the hooks a pair of boxer shorts in a manner in keeping with his current character. He raises his hand and tears the image from the A4 block. A new, very much younger face is revealed. His movements, slight as they are, align to the new image. He takes another garment from a hook and so the introductions of the various characters continue. All of this is skilfully executed by Mambouch as he is unable to see any of the garments hanging on the hooks. The precise placing of the garments and Mambouch’s acutely developed sense of touch makes these simple but yet complex manoeuvres feasible.
He continues to tear images from the block and metamorphoses with a succession of garments from old to young, male to female and shod to unshod. Some of the faces are celebrities or historical figures, while others are unknown. It is all carefully controlled. Mambouch has also created the sound accompaniment which backs the performance, which draws from everyday city life, cars and trucks passing, a typical burble of noise.
After about twenty minutes there is a break in the procession of images. Mambouch sits, removes his head gear, takes a new block of images from a locker and secures them in front of his own face. The new portraits are then revealed one by one and so it continues.
The inspiration behind the piece is a quote by French author Robert Antelme who said “Each person’s story unfolds through the need to be recognized, and recognized without reservation”. Because each character is given a similar length of time, with little favouritism shown, there is not any climax or denouement to the performance, it remains on an even keel throughout. It is in the Dance Festival but as a performance piece it appears to be much closer to mime than dance. That said Mambouch’s performance is a triumph of characterisation of many individuals by means of bodily movement and minimal props. No words are spoken. However it is difficult to see the purpose of it all, despite the skill and expertise shown by Mambouch. If there had been a social or political slant behind the gathering of characters, perhaps the piece would have had a greater punch. That said, Mambouch is worth seeing for the skills which he so ably demonstrates.
Concept: Maguy Marin
Performer: David Mambouch
Set Designer: Benjamin Lebreton
Executive producer: extrapole
Coproducers: Théâtre Garonne, Daejeon Arts Center, Latitudes prod, Marseille Objectif danse, Compagnie Maguy Marin, Ad Hoc , extrapole