The Piece With The Drums – Project Arts Centre – Review

The Piece With The Drums – Project Arts Centre – Review

Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th January, 2023

Tickets: Pay what you can, recommended price €23

This production is presented in the round in the Space Upstairs of the Project Arts Centre, with seating on three sides. It is always interesting to see how adaptable the space is, and this style created an intimate atmosphere, drawing the audience into the performance. Above the set, there was a circular rail with a transparent, shimmering curtain hanging down. At the start of the performance, one of the dancers comes to centre stage and leisurely gives us the house announcements. She holds a cigarette in one hand and at the end of the announcements, she asks the audience does anyone have a light?

This is a new work from CoisCéim that fuses percussion and dance. While this is nothing unusual in itself, this piece puts the drum front and centre of the performance, with the drummer an integral part of the production and not hidden in the wings. There are five other dancers, who perform in a variety of different groups through this wide-ranging and stylish production.

The drummer in question is Conor Guilfoyle. For fans of Jazz in Ireland, this may be a familiar name but to others, he may need an introduction. Conor calls himself a “Drummer and educator”. He has played with many famous Jazz musicians including John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell and David Liebman. He has also lectured in colleges around the world including The Royal Conservatory, Hague Holland, and Berklee College of Music, in Boston. He comes across as an affable and good-humoured man on stage, and his talent with the drumsticks is obvious, easily creating a wide variety of styles and sounds.

An interesting part of the production is that while there is a recommended price for tickets, it also allows for a ‘Pay What You Can’ price option, which is part of CoisCéim’s Strategic Plan. It will hopefully draw new people into the theatre, who would not have seen dance productions previously.

There are many small segments within the piece, as we see the drum kit slowly assembled and later taken apart! The dancers seem to toy with Conor Guilfoyle, teasing him but also reacting to the percussion sounds he creates with different drums. There is also time for a short comedy routine, with the drummer the butt of all the jokes. What’s the difference between a drummer and a pizza, we’re asked at one point? A pizza can feed a family of four! The production varies in style and content throughout and never dwells in one place for particularly long. There is flair and humour evident throughout this impressive production that will knock you out of the January blues.

Director/Choreographer – David Bolger
Set and Costume – Katie Davenport
Lighting – Eamon Fox
Music – Conor Guilfoyle
Performers – Justine Cooper, Ghaliah Conroy, Conor Guilfoyle, Ivonne Kalter, Jonathan Mitchell, Alex O’Neill.
Production Manager – Seán Dennehy
Stage Manager – Stephanie Ryan
Assistant Stage Manager – Laura Murphy

Image by Ros Kavanagh

Categories: Dance, Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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