The Misunderstanding of Myrrha – O’Reilly Theatre – Review
The Misunderstanding of Myrrha by Junk Ensemble
For those unfamiliar with the original tale, it is based on the Greek myth of Myrrha, the daughter of King Cinyras of Cyprus, and Queen Cenchreis. She was cursed to fall in love with her father and tricks him into having sex with her, conceiving the child Adonis. To avoid the rage of her father, she begs the Gods for mercy and is transformed into a myrrh tree!
We meet Myrrha (Julie Koenig) after the transformation has already taken place, with branches projecting from a headdress. She stands motionless centre stage, high on a pedestal. She slowly rotates, watching the world pass by before she climbs down from her plinth onto the floor below. The performance delves into the world of the myth through dance, music and spoken word.
The headdress is the creation of visual artist Alice Maher, who is responsible for the Scenography and Costume Design of this production. The involvement of Alice Maher certainly did spark interest in this production. Maher is a long-established visual artist from Tipperary, who had a major solo show in IMMA in 2012. Her work delves into gender identity and natural forms. Her collaboration with Junk Ensemble feels like a natural decision as they both explore similar worlds through different art forms.
The music by Denis Clohessy is the final piece of the puzzle. It is generally slow in nature, with pipe (church) organ the dominant instrument. Later in the piece, there is a driving drum beat as the dance starts to get more frenetic in nature.
The performance starts quite slowly, reflecting the nature of Myrrha as a tree. There is a short sequence of dance with the headdress before it is dispensed with, allowing the performer a greater range of movement. The stage is almost barren, with branches hanging overhead and a mound of soil on each side of the stage. The final dance is the highlight of the piece as Julie Koenig shows her frustration and anger, flailing and stamping around the stage in an energetic fashion. The piece is held together by the visual aesthetic, which raises the performance to another level. The line is often blurred between performance art and dance, and no more so than in this fine production. Hopefully, this will inspire other dance companies to explore further collaborations of this type.
Creation Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy, Alice Maher
Direction & Choreography Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy.
Choreography created in collaboration with the performer.
Performer Julie Koenig
Scenography & Costume Design Alice Maher
Lighting Design Stephen Dodd
Composition Denis Clohessy
Headpiece Artfx Ltd
Costume Sarah Foley
Producer Gwen Van Spÿk
Assistant Producers Michelle Cahill, Sophie Coote
Production Management: Barry O’ Donovan, Nic Ree
Stage Manager Fiona Keller
Production Photographer Luca Truffarelli
Publicity Images Fionn McCann