Navy Blue – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

Navy Blue – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Dance Festival – Review

23 – 24 May 2023
Choreographed by Oona Doherty

We meet the 12 dancers as they emerge on stage. They are a diverse crew of performers of various ages and ethnic backgrounds. They are dressed in simple navy blue work overalls. The clothes seem slightly ill-fitting like one size fits all. As the sounds of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto comes through the speakers, the dancers start to move.

This new work by Oona Doherty is essentially two quite different pieces performed one after another. There is no obvious connection between the pieces other than they may exist in the same totalitarian world.

The first has a collection of dancers performing almost in unison, as they move and spin around the small space of the stage, occasionally clashing and colliding as they do. After a length of time, a gunshot can be heard and one of the dancers falls to the floor. A pool of fluorescent blue blood slowly emerges beside the dead body. After a brief moment of unexpected grief and worry, the dancers return to their previous activity, until another gunshot rings out and a second body falls. This bloodthirsty performance takes place to the lush sounds of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2.

The second piece follows directly after the first. It is mainly a spoken word piece, as we hear the voice of Oona Doherty as she has a dark night of the soul. Her words are filled with angst and trepidation, as she discusses the human condition and our place in the world. We hear of ‘a blue dot on a blue dot’ as she speaks of the insignificance of the average human. World leaders and dictators are mentioned and their actions are deemed insignificant. The focus then falls on the choreographer and her work. We hear the budget for the piece we are watching, as she tells the cost of every element of the production. During this text-based section, there is music with synths and drone sounds by Jamie xx. The performers are agitated on stage, suffering the same unease as the voice from the heavens. Towards the end of the piece, the focus is entirely on the dancing with an intense climax.

This is quite a different work from what we have seen before from Oona Doherty and feels closer to experimental theatre than it does to a traditional dance piece. The two sections of the production seem quite distinct and it is hard to see an obvious connection between the two. Even the two pieces of music are quite far apart, and the sounds of Jamie xx and Sergueï Rachmaninov are an unusual combination. The text is well-written and has a touch of humour and some style. It could be argued that this is a step away from what Oona Doherty does best, but it is also obvious that she continues to grow as an artist and is not restricted by the conventions of one style of theatre or performance.

Choreography: Oona Doherty, in collaboration with the Dancers

Dancer: Amancio Gonzalez Miñon
Dancer: Andréa Moufounda
Dancer: Arno Brys
Dancer: Kinda Gozo
Dancer: Hilde Ingeborg Sandvold
Dancer: Joseph Simon
Dancer: Mathilde Roussin
Dancer: Kevin Coquelard
Dancer: Sati Veyrunes
Dancer: Thibaut Eiferman
Dancer: Tomer Pistiner
Dancer: Zoé Lecorgne
Dancer: Magdalena Öttl

Music: Jamie xx
Music: Sergueï Rachmaninov
Music collaborator: Jamie xx © by Universal Music Publishing Ltd
Music production: William Smith
With additional music: Sergueï Rachmaninov
Writer collaborator: Bush Moukarzel
Video conception: Nadir Bouassria
Lighting Design and technical Director: John Gunning
Stage Manager: Lisa Marie Barry
Costume conception: Oona Doherty
Costume conception: Lisa Marie Barry
Production: Gabrielle Veyssiere/ OD Works

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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