Bodies of Water – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Performances – 8 – 12 September
Venue – The Chocolate Factory
The first thing I would say about this piece is that you’re better off going to it with no prior knowledge of it! If you’re willing to take a chance then read no further, buy your tickets and see it as those involved intended. If you still need to be convinced, then read below.
This play takes the form of a talk from Jan Kavanagh (played by Úna Kavanagh). As it starts, she looks around the room and wonders if she knows anyone attending the talk today from her time in NCAD where she studied alongside Ira Dean. Ira was an artist that disappeared ten years ago without a trace. She left a small body of work behind her including some pieces in glass, a series of sketch books and a number of performance art videos. Those visiting the show will get to see all the art works first hand. You will also get an insight into how they were made by her long time collaborator and life partner Jan.
This is a play that dances the line between what is real and what is fiction. The audience are plunged into the world of the artist. She was fascinated by the waste we generate and her final work of art was meant to be a video of the North Atlantic garbage patch. She set off in search of it and never returned.
The performance makes use of the large open plan space in the chocolate factory. There are a number of benches in the room and four screens where the videos are projected. Jan later introduces a number of cardboard boxes filled with a variety of art works. She tells stories of how they were made with some interesting insights. There is real attention to detail with the props and works of art that are displayed, like when she talks of a small crack in a ceramic item that Ira said was in the shape of Africa. Other things don’t work quite as well, like the green plastic bottles which were in Ira’s studio that just couldn’t be ten years old!
Those expecting this story to have other elements or twists will be disappointed. The mystery is there before you enter the room and little new is revealed other than anecdotes of their life together. The play could almost be real life. Kavanagh is a regular with Anu and knows how to hold the attention of an audience in an immersive work such as this. She plays the part with the tenderness of a lover who was left behind and never got the answers she deserved.