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Crowd – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

Crowd – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

Gisèle Vienne, France – Crowd

Venue: O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College
Date(s): 7-8 Oct. 7.30pm

At the start of this production, the stage floor is covered with a thin layer of clay, along with plastic bottles, cans and other detritus. There is a strong light coming from one corner of the stage. The first of the dancers slowly comes into sight, walking out onto the stage, before they are joined by the rest of the large group of casually dressed individuals. And so begins this strange dance piece, giving an insight into the club scene of Berlin and beyond.

The piece explores the emotions of a group of 15 youths as they tumble around the stage. They hug, kiss, push and fight. They explode into furious dance and fling their bodies around the stage, but not at a normal speed. The production is mainly played at half or quarter speed, so we see the slow-moving dancers and explore the emotions on their faces as they fill the stage. There are so many events taking place on different corners of the set, you can focus on any one element. There is no clear story, instead, we see the totality and the viewer gets to decide which elements are of the most importance.

This piece is by Gisèle Vienne, the Franco-Austrian artist, choreographer and director. Gisèle followed a curious route into the world of dance, first getting a degree in Philosophy before later studying at the puppeteering school (École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette). On this piece, she worked with Anja Röttgerkamp and Nuria Guiu Sagarra, along with long-time collaborator Denis Cooper.

The use of time is unusual throughout the work. It feels like the dancers are recreating a video, with the unseen viewer slowing the speed of the images, occasionally stopping or replaying elements. At times, the entire group freeze in space, until one dancer eventually moves and slowly breaks the spell. At other times, they move backwards and forwards, like the viewer is rewinding and replaying the feed. There are some moments played at full and energetic speed, but these are the exceptions to the rule.

There are moments that capture a music festival, with the wild movement of young bodies on a muddy surface. The one possible flaw was the duration of the piece, as the 90-minute run time felt slightly excessive, and there was a degree of repetition towards the end. The playful approach to time and speed allowed the viewer to really study the movement of the dancers, picking out smaller elements that would have been missed if played at a normal pace. It was an inventive and unusual dance piece that played with the viewer’s conceptions of time and space.

Cast and Creative Team
Concept, Choreography and Set Design: Gisèle Vienne with Anja Röttgerkamp and Nuria Guiu Sagarra
Lighting Design: Patrick Riou
Dramaturgy by Gisèle Vienne and Denis Cooper
Performers: Lucas Bassereau, Philip Berlin, Marine Chesnais, Sylvain Decloitre, Sophie Demeyer, Vincent Dupuy, Rehin Hollant, Georges Labbat, Oskar Landström, Theo Livesey, Maya Masse, Katia Petrowick, Linn Ragnarsson, Jonathan Schatz and Henrietta Wallberg
Costumes: Gisèle Vienne in collaboration with Camille Queval and the performers

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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