The Curious Works of Roger Doyle – Film Review
Review by Frank L
Directed by Brian Lally
This is the first feature length documentary made by Brian Lally. He has filmed it over many years. The use of the words “curious works” in the title gives us a clue that a documentary about Irish composer Roger Doyle will have out of the ordinary elements and that it will make demands on the viewer. Doyle is now seventy years of age. From an early age despite parental misgivings, he wanted to make his life’s work music. He was fascinated by the emerging genre of electronic music. It is in that world and its offshoots that he has created new work. As some of his collaborators such as Bob Quinn, Olwen Fouere, Joe Comerford and Selina Cartmel attest he has a unique inspiration. As an innovator he is probably before his time. Therefore popular acclaim has not been his.
However, Lally balances Doyle’s lack of popular recognition with the high regard his peers in several complementary disciplines hold him. What gives the documentary impetus are the preparations for the première of his opera “Heresy” in the Project Arts Centre in 2016. There are substantial clips of the rehearsals and from the actual performance. While these can only give a partial appreciation of the entire opera, they give a flavour of an event which ought to have been experienced. Like any artist he longs for his work to have greater recognition.
This documentary ought to help rectify his comparative lack of acclaim. The documentary clearly records the life and work of an original artist, which could bring his work to a wider audience. The final sequence of Doyle playing the piano (with backing track and vocalist) of the last six minutes of his composition “Alfred Gebler, Clarinettist” in the eerie empty magnificence of St. Patrick’s Cathedral creates a fine visual and musical experience. Brian Lally has created an engaging tribute to a master who has not received, as yet, the public attention which he deserves.