Anatomy Of A Night – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
by Brian Merriman
Performances: 21 – 24 September – 19:30, €15/€13
Venue: The Complex – The Depot
Written and performed by Nick Nikolaou
Developed at Fringe Lab, with support from The Complex
Funded by The Arts Council
Supported by Dance Ireland
An earlier version of this work was developed initially through the Lighting Design for Dance Project 2021, an initiative from The Lir Academy, Liz Roche Company, Dance Ireland and the Irish World Academy, UL.
It’s great to see the Dublin Fringe back and live. It also reminded me of how long it’s been since I was in The Complex and I was hugely impressed by the wonderful development of this important city centre space.
Dublin Fringe is not a run-of-the-mill Fringe festival. No longer can a group of young artists get together, beg a set, put together a show and either enthral or waste an hour of your life, as still happens in Edinburgh and elsewhere.
This year’s Dublin Fringe programme is tried and tested, has multiple professional collaborations by established theatre-makers (see the long list of credits above and below) and is hugely resourced. It isn’t traditional anarchic, ridiculous, haphazard and brilliant theatre, it is crafted, resourced and curated. It is real theatre and value for money.
In ‘Anatomy of a Night’, the production values and execution are way beyond traditional Fringe. There is quality, money and expertise in the design and delivery. It is striking and impressive. The lighting and sound are top-class. The design is sophisticated and the filming hugely enhances the production. Anatomy of a Night is an observation of nightclub culture.
Nick Nikolaou our solo performer who puts a queer eye on the increasing dominance by ‘queerdom’ of many other cultural expressions. So many (and straight) lgbt+ allies have found their membership in the rainbow community through queerness. This year’s Dublin Fringe programme is very, very queer.
Clearly, the isolation of Covid helped queerness burst out of its confines and its expression and colour are everywhere. Queerness is not a sexual orientation or a gender identity, it is an expressive and fluid lifestyle. Lifestyles come and go, evolve and change. The queer person today may yet be selling stock and shares or running for Fianna Fail in a few year’s time!
Queer is the now. ‘Anatomy of a Night’ is also in the now. Nick – our solo performer, dances in an array of mostly female costumes, beautifully designed (these club queers have money!) throughout an hour-long soundtrack of pulsating rhythms.
There are just two club anthems played in the evening and it’s down to Donna Summer to inevitably get the audience dancing (in their seats) too. There are a lot of head rolls, hair flicks, thrusts, catwalk strutting and great physicality in the high-energy performance. The routines were enhanced so well by first-class lighting and a soundtrack level that never overwhelms the audience.
Near the end of the piece, the performer sets out what inspired the work and at times it was hard to hear the explanation. His energy, delivery and bearing are well executed and he proved, without doubt, the body can look well in anything!
‘Anatomy of A Night’ is exactly that, an observation of the many people who make up a night in the club. We too are charged with that sense of observation and are left to our own imagination as to who and what these cameos are or mean. There is no story to journey through. It is an hour-long snapshot that celebrates the queerness of club culture, but it begs the contextual question – is there enough in a snapshot to sustain an hour?
Well, that’s only part of the evening, as decks are set up after the performance and you can dance yourself away for the next two hours (hence the duration credit in the programme) with a guest DJ, visit the bar at The Complex and be as queer (or not) as you like.
Queerness is not permanent – it can be just for a moment…enjoy your moment…but remember (seriously) ‘no heels on the dancefloor by order of the management!
DJ Sets by:
Tuesday 20: Rory Sweeney
Wednesday 21: Bambi
Thursday 22: Bull Horris
Friday 23: ALYXIS
Saturday 24: Tonie Walsh
Choreographer/Performer: Nick Nikolaou
Lighting Designer: Kevin Murphy
Sound Design/Production: Rory Sweeney
Costume Designer: Dearbhla Beirne
Mentor/Movement Dramaturg: Emma Martin
Videographer: Sal Stapleton
Advisor: Tonie Walsh
Producer: Karen Aguiar
Stage Manager: Alison O’Shea
Dramaturg: Sian Ní Mhuirí