War dances and gale forces: This week’s best theatre shows

The Dublin Theatre Festival closes with a swirl of music and dance performances

Junk Ensemble and Tom Clonan perform Soldier Still at the Mac, Belfast

Junk Ensemble and Tom Clonan perform Soldier Still at the Mac, Belfast

 

Soldier Still
The Mac, Belfast Tuesday October 17th & Wednesday October 18th 7.45pm £12-£25 belfastinternationalartsfestival.com

A hit at this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival, where it won glowing reviews and an award for its design, Soldier Still is a piece about combat and violence from contemporary dance innovators Junk Ensemble, now arriving to the Belfast International Arts Festival. Jessica and Megan Kennedy have collaborated with many different parties before, some versed in dance, some not, among fellow professionals, community casts and youth theatre groups. For Soldier Still, they have enlisted the help of former soldiers along with Irish and international dancers, among them security analyst and former soldier Tom Clonan, who begins the performance by donning his uniform and becoming a witness to violence and traumas performed, and spoken, by the company. “All are held in the grip of previous traumas,” wrote dance critic Michael Seaver of Junk Ensemble’s “most visually focused work to date”.

Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart performs her solo show Wind Resistance at the Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire
Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart performs her solo show Wind Resistance at the Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire

Wind Resistance
Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin Thursday October 12th-Saturday October 14th 8pm (matinee 2.30pm) €26 dublintheatrefestival.com

Following its success at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival, this stage performance by Scottish songwriter, theatre-maker and spoken word performer Karine Polwart blows westerly towards Dublin and Belfast, appearing at festivals in each city. A solo performance positioned as a paean to the countryside and all things of nature, Wind Resistance explores hidden stories of motherhood through song and personal memoir. Written by Polwart, whose songcraft combines folk influences with themes as diverse as Donald Trump’s corporate megalomania or Charles Darwin’s complicated family life, it has also been developed with assured Scottish theatre-makers David Greig and Liam Hurley, and been rapturously received by critics. Theatre has been flirting with the structure and immediacy of music gigs for some time (Greig’s collaboration with musician Charlie Fink, Cover My Tracks, was a gorgeous recent example at the Galway International Arts Festival) and here Polwart’s collaboration with Greig’s Royal Lyceum Theatre combines evocative visuals with her narration and live score.

Fruits of Labor is at Samuel Beckett Theatre in TCD
Fruits of Labor is at Samuel Beckett Theatre in TCD

Fruits of Labor
Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin Friday October 13th-Sunday October 15th 7.30pm (Sunday matinee 2.30pm) €25

It’s not hard to trace the influence of Miet Warlop’s mind-expanding visual stage world in some of the broader horizons of Irish scenography since her first Dublin visit in 2012. Like Karine Polwart’s Wind Resistance, Warlop’s new piece is somewhere between theatre performance and music concert, in which Warlop, three musicians and a roadie preside over a psychoactive parade through religion, terrorism, hallucinations and nature trails, transforming the stage is into its own skittering musical instrument.

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