Dublin Fringe reviews: ‘Save yourself. Leave Troy. Found Rome’

The festival continues with an ebullient take on an epic and unsettling dance theatre

When in Rome: Aoife Leonard as Dido in Collapsing Horse’s production of Virgil’s Aeneid

When in Rome: Aoife Leonard as Dido in Collapsing Horse’s production of Virgil’s Aeneid

 

THE AENEID ★★★
Smock Alley Theatre
Each generation gets to tell the tale its own way, but the tale always has its say. Modern-day rhapsodes in hand-me-down red togas, the five performers in Collapsing Horse’s ebullient if overwrought take on Virgil’s epic are determined to give their inheritance a new spin.

Maeve O’Mahony’s Aeneas is modest for a demigod, which fits the prevailing tone, where heroism comes with charming diffidence and vast adventures are summoned through modest, make-and-do means. There are gods in drifts of fabric; sacrificial animals and wooden horses in miniature; paper cascades and relentlessly folksy music flows; puppets, puppets everywhere.

Written by director Dan Colley and the cast, this Aeneid nudges at the burden of mythology, and whether it can be revised to fit new concerns. But its fixation on the totally unfair mistreatment of Dido (Aoife Leonard) and prolonged tussle between idealistic youths and fusty elders comes with a wearisome insistence and little depth of feeling. Still, the spry ensemble weaves plenty of pleasures in the margins, and nothing beats the clarifying pith of Venus’s instruction: “Save yourself. Leave Troy. Found Rome.” Got it.
- Until Sep 24
Peter Crawley

KAPERLAK ★★★
The Pearse Centre

Jane Deasy’s impressive new music theatre production takes its title from the Greenlandic word for “time of darkness”. Sure enough, there is a chilly, windswept flavour to the piece. On a circular island, a woman lies curled between an old Bush wireless and a battered lump of something briny. At the rear, a trio – percussion, violin, voice – plays Deasy’s beautiful music while we hear recordings relating to the philosophy of science. This is the most successful part of the evening. Dealing in ambient drone, the melodies manage an agreeable blend of melancholy and cheekiness. The recordings do much the same: taking in grim musings on apocalypse and that Teresa Mannion broadcast.

After this overture, the woman curls herself upright and speaks words drawn from Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. It’s not entirely clear how the second section relates to the first, but the phrases from Plath’s The Bell Jar get at a personal depression that rhymes with the global miseries suggested by the earlier recordings. The words are well spoken. The movements are unsettling. But Kaperlak is at its most lovely when at its most oblique.
- Until Sept 17
Donald Clarke

- The Tiger Fringe festival in Dublin runs until September 25th. See fringefest.com. Reviews continue daily through the festival at irishtimes.com/culture

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