Soldier Still – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review

Soldier Still – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Fringe Festival

Dates Sep 09 – 14 @ 20:30 – Tickets €16/ €14 conc.
Duration 65 mins – Other performance Sep 14 @ 15:00
Venue: Project Arts Centre Space Upstairs

Photo: Fionn McGann

The production starts with a man (Tom Conlan) walking on stage in a white t-shirt and boxer shorts. He carries a uniform which he dresses himself in, to make him the commanding officer of the group. The other dancers (Geir Hytten, Lucia Kickham, Julie Koenig and Fernando Balsera Pita) slowly drift onto the stage and start to move in a controlled and elegant fashion.

Junk Ensemble were previously in the Fringe Festival in 2015 with It Folds, which was a collaboration with Brokentalkers. While Junk Ensemble (Jessica and Megan Kennedy) are responsible for the dance elements of the production, there are a host of other creatives involved. Tom Conlan is a retired army officer, who wrote the book “Whistleblower, Soldier, Spy” and also writes as a security analyst for the Irish Times. He wrote the text for this work, along with Feidlim Cannon of Brokentalkers and Geir Hytten. The other main contributor to the piece is Denis Clohessy who is responsible for the music and sound design. He has created a highly impressive score for this piece, with electronic sounds along with more familiar instruments.

The production uses recordings of interviews and other spoken word pieces to tell of life in the army. There are a number of interesting viewpoints, telling that the army is inherently violent and that much of the training the officers receive is to allow them to carry out these tasks without considering the morals of their actions. The training is engrained into each officer so that they react in a precise way to any given stimuli. It also made reference to the advertisements for the army that portray it as hyper masculine, claiming that the army will make you ‘be all you can be’. Whereas in reality, the training you receive is mainly to make you follow orders and to consent to the will of others.

In the early scenes, the dancers move as if they are a flock of birds, with precise coordination. At other times the movements are more violent as if the dancers are attacking each other. There is often a sense of isolation, with one of the dancers left out and struggling to be taken back into the group.  There is a strong visual sense to the production, with impressive lighting and use of flares. With many contemporary dance pieces, the audience struggles to find the meaning behind the movements, but the text helps draw the various strands together. This is a rich and rewarding production, that is recommended for any fan of modern dance.


Creation and Choreography: Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy
Set Design: Sabine Dargent
Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels
Composition: Denis Clohessy
Costume Design: Sarah Foley
Dramaturgy: Gary Keegan

Performers: Dr Tom Clonan, Geir Hytten, Lucia Kickham, Julie Koenig, Fernando Balsera Pita

8- 14 September Dublin Fringe Festival 2017 at Project Arts Centre
16 September Mermaid Arts Centre, Wicklow
17 + 18 October Belfast International Arts Festival at The MAC


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