Review: Jimmy Stewart, An Anthropologist From Mars, Analyses Love and Happiness in Humans (And Rabbits) and 30 Cecil Street (Double Bill)

Samuel Beckett Theatre 2

It’s strangely appropriate that these two solo shows – utterly different in style but each involved in its own search – should somehow find each other. In the first part of a beguiling double bill, Tassos Stevens presents the story of a Martian, named after the phlegmatic film icon, trying to unravel the mysteries of the human heart. Assisted with a “Synesthetic Sound System” (in truth a surreally suggestive flip chart) he derives a bizarre emotional metric from FM radio love songs, hears anecdotes of absorbingly dreamy detail, and canvasses the audience for opinion. It is as imaginative as magic realism, and Stevens revels in involving ambiguities. What is love? It’s a lavity of one Chaka, we learn, and so much more besides.

Dan Canham’s remarkable solo performance, developed from his short film on Limerick’s defunct Theatre Royal, is a poetic documentary: a dance about architecture. Using a reel-to-reel player to evoke crumbling atmospherics and various spoken memories, he maps out the space in masking tape then dances it back to life. Part celebration, part lament, Canham conveys its social disintegration through juddering or staggered movements, implies romantic history with an elegant sweep of footsteps then conjures the ephemeral quality of performance with just a hypnotic rolling of his hands. Canham isn’t restoring any specific space, though; instead he describes the transience of all performance within a fascinating, fragile monument.

Finishes today.
Peter Crawley

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