Gym Swim Party – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Danielle Galligan & Gavin Kostick In association with GSP & O’Reilly Theatre
Performances – 12 – 15 September
Venue – O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College
Find out more about this production in our Interview with Gavin Kostick and Danielle Galligan – Gym Swim Party – Dublin Fringe Festival here.
At the start of this production we meet two teams of athletes who are competing in an unusual contest. They are representatives of the two gyms that dominate the greater Dublin scene, which are of course Trojan and Swan gyms. There are three athletes in each team and they will face off in a number of competitions with the winner being allowed to buy the other out and therefore become the biggest gym in Dublin! It is not that straight forward though, as two members of the opposing gyms, a young woman called Cas (Kate Gilmore) and a man called Aggy (Ian Toner) come into contact for the first time. Despite being from opposite sides of the divide the chemistry is hard to resist!
This is a new production that takes ideas and concepts from a variety of sources to create something quite unique. The production has three co-directors listed with Eddie Kay, Megan Kennedy and Louise Lowe. Eddie Kay has worked on productions such as ‘This Beach’ (Brokentalkers) and ‘Danse, Morob’ generally as a Movement Director. Megan Kennedy is one of the founders of the dance theatre company Junk Ensemble and has a long history directing Dance on stage. The final director is Louise Lowe who is mainly known as the Artistic Director of Anu but has also worked on a number of more traditional productions such as Rebel, Rebel and Test Dummy.
The initial scenes set in a ‘Gym’ are directed by Kennedy. This takes inspiration from computer games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat. John Doran plays the ring master/ judge in these scenes and uses his natural wit to draw the humour out of the situations. The athletes ‘battle’ in a number of areas such as step aerobics and hoop tossing!
The next Act is set in a swimming pool and is the ‘Swim’ section of the title. This is the most successful section of the production, as we get a version of synchronised swimming, with the actors performing while in a ‘swimming pool’. This is a large tiled section of the set with the actors heads visible as they bob above the imaginary water line. It is quite inventive and very well choreographed.
The final section of the play is the ‘Party’ which was directed by Louise Lowe and is more text based than the other two sections as we get to see the repercussions of the uneasy love match, which are quite gruesome!
The set is very impressive and it uses the vast space of the O’Reilly hall well, with a white tiled wall and a variety of chrome ladders and railings to represent the swimming pool. The music by composer Denis Clohessy is another highlight, especially in the early sections where the gym battle takes place. But despite inventive design and the obvious skills of those involved in this production, it seems to be less than the sum of its parts. The three sections do not make easy bed fellows and the change between the comedic style of the early scenes and the more dramatic later ones jar. The production is clearly very ambitious and looks great, but the use of three different directors may have detracted rather than enhanced the production. It certainly has its moments, and the synchronised swimming scene will live long in the memory, but overall it flattered to deceive.
Cast – Kate Gilmore, Danielle Galligan, John Doran, Darragh Kelly, Clelia Murphy, Robbie O’Connor, Katie Honan, Ian Toner, Eva O’Connor.
Creative Team –
Co-Directed by Eddie Kay, Megan Kennedy & Louise Lowe
Assistant Director: Samantha Cade
Composer: Denis Clohessy
Lighting Designer: Aedin Cosgrove
Set & Costume Designer: Marie Kearns