Assisted Solo – Project Arts Centre – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Dates Sep 08-10, 12-13 @ 21:00 – Tickets €16 / €14 conc.
Other performances Sep 15 @ 13:00 & 18:15 – Duration 60 mins
Venue: Project Arts Centre Space Upstairs
This is a dance piece by Irish artist Philip Connaughton. There are three dancers on stage at the start of the production, they begin at the back of the set and slowly work their way towards the audience. All three move independently, like they are trapped in their own cycle, unaware of the movement of the others. In a sense, there are three solo dances being performed for the audience. This piece also has another presence, that is Madeleine, Philip’s mother, who suffers from advanced dementia. Philip allowed a camera man into their home to record his daily routine with his mother. Video pieces are projected onto a screen at the back of the stage at regular intervals. This allows for a sweet and poignant story to emerge of their deep love.
“My Mum doesn’t know my name but she knows her timetables. She knows the words to the songs we sing. Sometimes things stay, some get lost” – Philip Connaughton
There are also a number of stories from Philip which break up the dance pieces. We hear of his early years, when his mother asked him what he wanted for his birthday. His answer was a stuffed toy of Popeye! This introduces a dance segment with Philip and Lucia Kickham, complete in muscled sailor man uniform! We also hear of his unique solution to his mother’s constipation, which did not involve prune juice!
Connaughton is known for his humorous productions such as the violent shoe battle of Whack!! and the alien lifeforms of Extraterrestrial Events. This production has something much more melancholy at its core. At times it is very hard to see the levity in their circumstances as he deals with a patient who cannot explain her illness, the loss of dignity and the role reversal between parent and child. It is a difficult thing to explain through dance but they are largely successful. The movement of French dance artist Magali Caillet is one of the highlights of the performance. She is older than your usual dance performer but has impressive power and style. The production is very different for Connaughton and shows a vulnerability that is unexpected and affecting.