“All three actors are at their best as Liam, lively and energetic and sad”
In rural Ireland, three friends meet to commemorate something that happened 17 years ago – the death of their mate Liam. But none of them are 17 anymore, and the night is a mix of memory and present day revelations. It’s supposed to be a big one – 17 years later, and 17 when he died, but the rest of the lads are in town for the birthday of someone none of them know, and only Pa, Barry and Cusack show up to mark the anniversary. Still, they line up the cans, Pa passes out the drugs and they get the darts out.
The whole play (set and costume design by Naomi Faughnan) is set in the shack they used to go to, the gang of them, when they were teenagers. There’s a single flashing strip light (lighting design Zia Bergin-Holly), empty beer cans, faded deck chairs, candles, a table the wrong way up, a bed and mattress separated on either side of the room. It’s a claustrophobic space, and outside all we can hear is rain pouring down (sound design Peter Power).
Occasionally the pace is too slow, and the piece as a whole does feel longer than it needs to be. But the actors help to carry it through. Rhys Dunlop plays Pa, perhaps the character most in pain, still reeling, apparently living more in the past than in any kind of future. He delivers a particularly moving performance as the story unfolds. Barry is played by Colin Campbell, again another very convincing performance, whilst Conor Madden plays Cusack, the new father of the group, who has some lovely moments although begins acting drunk too early which makes the mid-point of his performance feel repetitive.
Each actor takes a turn to morph into Liam and deliver a monologue in three pieces which tells the story of what really happened the night he died. All three actors are at their best as Liam, lively and energetic and sad.
Flights, written by John O’Donovan and directed here by Thomas Martin is a poignant play about grief and about male friendships. It’s about the way that people change as they get older, set in an Ireland none of them are quite ready to leave.
“the emotion and beauty with which Maliphant and Fouras dance, and create, together is truly stunning”
Maliphantworks3 opens with movement and light and sound, the three key ingredients of choreographer Russell Maliphant’s work. He is joined onstage by Dana Fouras, and together they investigate the relationship of these three components through a three-part evening of dance.
‘The Space Between’, our first act, begins as two dancers (Maliphant and Fouras) rise up from the floor, their facial features made indistinguishable by the patterns of animated light rippling across the stage, crawling up the walls. The piece was made in collaboration with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras, a collaboration which pushes even further the possibilities of light and shape to transform a space and the people who move within it. Maliphant and Tomaras designed the lighting together. Each section of the dance is marked by a change in light and a change in music (sound design by Fouras). In one, Maliphant dances solo, rising and falling, following light that forms like cells across the floor. In another the two dancers are visible alternately, each contained in separate squares of light that strobe faster and faster. Sometimes the sound design is so loud we can’t hear them move across the floor. Sometimes the sound design is so quiet we can hear the dancers breathe. Following their solos, the two dancers come together again for a finale duet, a beautiful moment of union.
The second part of the evening is two short films. Both films, which premiere tonight, have been created in collaboration with photographer Julian Broad. Dana Fouras dances in the first, a single figure swathed in material that means the silhouette of her body is continually changing as she moves. The second film is another solo piece, this time featuring Maliphant, who dances within a hanging orange elastic like he is testing gravity. This film is made up of many different shots, the light changing from one to the next, white then blue then grey.
The final part of our evening is once again live. A pulsing light transforms into an orange backlight that makes the dancers look close to silhouetted. A pulsing beat transforms into a light, fast strumming. In contrast to the speed of the music, the dancers’ move with a mesmerising slowness here, and there is an intense intimacy in the way they move with each other, around each other, over and under each other. This intimacy makes for a deeply moving performance, a fitting end to this triple bill of dance. This work, entitled ‘Duet’ returns to the stage after its success in Maliphantsworks2 in 2018.
Maliphantworks3 is a beautiful evening of dance, that redefines the relationship of movement with light and with sound. With an emphasis on duets in the programme, the emotion and beauty with which Maliphant and Fouras dance, and create, together is truly stunning.