May B – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

May B – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

Full Details of Dublin Dance Festival (Winter Edition) is available here

May B – Compagnie Maguy Marin (France)
O’Reilly Theatre – Nov 5th to 7th

The Dublin Dance Festival has always had a twin-pronged approach. One is to show the best of contemporary Dance from Irish choreographers. The other is to put on classic work from around the world that has never been seen before on Dublin stages. This production falls neatly into the second category,

This piece was first performed in 1981 and it has an unusual connection with Ireland as it was inspired by the writings of Samuel Beckett. Marin wrote to Beckett asking for permission to adapt his work, and the Nobel laureate replied to her, granting permission and offering to meet to discuss the piece. It is all the more surprising as Maguy Marin was only 30 years old at the time and was largely unknown. The work features characters and settings that are reminiscent of Beckett’s work. It is unusual to see characters from a play given a second life but in this work, you see a revival of Lucky and Pozzo from Waiting for Godot along with Clov and Hamm from Endgame on the same stage. A small section from Endgame is the only text spoken in the piece.

The production starts with ten characters on stage, five men and five women. They are an unusual collection of individuals, all different shapes and sizes. They wear thick makeup on their faces and hair to give them a grey and ashen complexion, which is matched in their clothing.  They appear to be creatures from beyond this world as they slowly shuffle around the space. A whistle intermittently blows, urging them onwards. Slowly, the group fall into unison and start to move like a murmuration of starlings, following different directions and repeating hand gestures. This is the first in a number of short sequences that fill the 90 minutes duration.

The production is set to music by Franz Schubert and Gavin Bryars, with a major sequence played to the much-loved piece Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, with the simple repeated phrase filled out with strings. The piece is well choreographed as the characters move perfectly in unison. Their movements are never grand or beautiful, as these creatures scratch and shuffle throughout the production. They grunt and snarl at things imagined off stage. It’s a constantly entertaining and unique experience that will last with the audience long after these creatures returned to the depths from whence they came.


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