Dances Like a Bomb – Dublin Dance Festival – Review
Dances Like a Bomb – Junk Ensemble
25 May—26 May
Photo Credits – Luca Truffarelli
This is a new duet by Junk Ensemble which has two relatively unusual performers. While Mikel Murfi has appeared in many dance productions, including the much loved Swan Lake / Loch na hEala by Teac Damsa, he is best known as an actor. The other performer is Finola Cronin, who worked with renowned German choreographer Pina Bausch’s Tanz Theater Wuppertal from 1985 to 1995. The most unusual thing about these performers is that neither is in the first flush of youth. They are not in the typical age bracket for dancers, but this production aims to celebrate “the strength and beauty of mature bodies” while “challenging the cult of youth”.
Junk Ensemble is a dance-theatre company formed by twin sisters Jessica and Megan Kennedy. They are known for works such as It Folds and more recently, The Misunderstanding of Myrrha. Their aim is to create “imaginative and accessible dance-theatre work” and this production could easily be presented as theatre. There is movement and segments of dance, but there is also an emphasis on the relationship between the two enigmatic characters on stage.
As you enter the auditorium, both performers sit bolt upright in their underwear at the back of the stage. This show does not shy away from exposing the human form and its many frailties. The performers appear warts and all, with the flaws of their bodies exposed. At one point, Finola Cronin stands with her arms out wide, while Mikel Murfi pulls the flesh beneath her triceps, repeating the word ‘flap’, showing her bingo wings to the audience! This same scene is replicated with Finola pulling at the flesh on Murfi’s jowls and stomach. The production discusses with some candour the many difficulties of ageing and the changes it brings to our bodies.
There are also sections of text in the production, some spoken by the performers and some by voiceover. In one scene, the actors discuss and act out ways you can die, with some quite gory responses including immolation, disembowelling and drowning. Another sequence shows Finola connected to an IV drip, while Mikel slowly moves her and her IV stand around the stage.
The production is sanguine about our bodies and our inevitable demise. There is a tender acceptance of our fate, tinged with regret but also an optimistic and humorous tone, with a blast of euphoric energy to end the evening. There are compassionate moments between the two on stage reflecting the intimacy of a couple who have known each other for many years. They hold each other from falling, propping each other up when required. It’s a bittersweet piece about ageing, our bodies and all that makes life worth living.
Created and Directed by Jessica Kennedy, Megan Kennedy
Choreography created in collaboration with the cast
Performers Finola Cronin, Mikel Murfi
Set Design Sabine Dargent
Music Denis Clohessy
Lighting Design Stephen Dodd
Costume Design Saileóg O’Halloran
Text Finola Cronin, Mikel Murfi
Voice Coach Andrea Ainsworth
Set Construction Ger Clancy
Stage Managers Lora Hartin, Marella Boschi
Production Manager Simon Bird
Chief LX Eoin Lennon
Producer Gwen Van Spÿk
Assistant Producer Michelle Cahill
Producer Support Sophie Coote