REVIEWS DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL

 

A look at the best from the Dublin Fringe Festival

Blackbox: Une Boite

Andalouse****

South King Street

It was almost too much for one passer-by. Having observed a group of energetic white-faced performers swirling into increasingly bizarre positions around a single black booth, he retreated with a bewildered "What the . . .?". Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel would have approved. Indeed, the view from inside Bootworks Company's witty and artfully choreographed street-theatre adaptation of Un Chien Andalouhardly makes much more sense. In an enjoyably frantic five-minute surrealist peepshow, the once-shocking images of the 1928 film are translated into playfully inventive hokum for one viewer at a time.

Here, the infamous eyeball-slicing scene is served with papier-mâchéclose-up and a knowing wink, while the booth's three blinking apertures provide glimpses of sly film references and surrealist gags. Making sense of these funny, groping non sequiturs is like trying to pin down your subconscious, but do loiter "backstage" a while to watch the timing and physical discipline that bring this disjointed dream to life.

• Until Thur, Sept 18 PETER CRAWLEY

Day of Dance ***

Dancehouse

Tucked into Dancehouse's open day of screenings, workshops and talkshops were two live performances, which, within the low-tech setting, focused more purely on the body.

Isabelle Schad's Ohne Worte( Praticable) ditched more usual comic triggers for an anatomical approach to the comical body, but her flailing torso and limbs reflected an unsatisfying conceptual sprawl.

Seemingly floating in limbo, the body in Deirdre Murphy's solo, Wax Hands, transcended the physical and became a spiritual presence in the moment between life and death.

Another solo, A Still Return, by Scottish choreographer Charlotte Spencer, was even more spiritual, if earthbound. A beautiful soft-spoken meditation on natural rhythm, it had a slowly whirring momentum that returned, almost palindromically, to a place of comforting rest. Her short work-in-progress, Musical, featured two dancers with prosthetics legs attached to their mouths, and the elephantine antics were suitably restrained and consequently hilarious in their abstraction.

• Show concluded MICHAEL SEAVER

La Charlatanne ****

Spiegeltent, Iveagh Gardens

"I am a fraud," revealed a knowing Karen Egan, shape-shifting her way through a repertoire of cabaret standards that playfully evoked the genre's extensive variations of tone and influence. Thus a sad Jacques Brel serenade sat side by side with a lesser-known anti-war anthem and a long-forgotten 1980s electropop song by German band Trio. Yes, La Charlatanne paid her respects to the classics, but she always had her tongue tucked firmly in her cheek.

The set-list was spliced together by Egan's droll, self-deprecating commentary, another veil, another disguise, for La Charlatanne to hide behind. However, the most absorbing aspect of Egan's performance was the raw vulnerability that underpinned all the charades.

With the support of musical director Cian Boylan and a dapper six-piece band, Egan is a pure and accomplished singer. Not quite a faker then. More like the real thing.

• Show concluded SARA KEATING

Round She Goes ***

Bosco Theatre,

Iveagh Gardens

Gliding to the stage in a figure-hugging black number, clasping a ukulele while perched atop an enormous pair of rollerskates, Amy G is equal parts cabaret act and balancing act. With the poise of a diva and the laugh of a braying mule, this "recovering perfectionist" from New York gives us a studied combination of elegance and slapstick, wherein comic composure is the punchline to the show's imminent collapse.

Amy's innuendo-laden shtick revolves around a routine romantic crisis and the fissures in normality. Or, as she puts it, "expose yourself . . . especially the cracks". Every single entendre is underpinned by impeccable talent though. One of several surprisingly affecting ukulele songs even splits to reveal a Mozart vocal lift then a tap-dance on wheels.

Moving her audience to whoops and a racy "snog-a-long", there's no doubting her wry seductiveness, or that having drolly skated through some opening-night spills, from now on she'll be on a roll.

• Until Thur PETER CRAWLEY

Tundra ***

Empty Space@Smock Alley

What sounded like the slow shunting of train carriages rumbled the walls of the theatre as shafts of light strafed the crowd, transporting the audience to the tundra. This was a polished, considered work by Triptych, featuring music by Ian Wilson and an enormously disciplined performance by Anne Gilpin.

With no dialogue, she shaped a loose narrative of isolation and pursuit, displacement and migration, under unforgiving lighting (designed by Conleth White) which drifted from aggressive reds to laconic blues, and the unsettled audience was left largely to draw its own conclusions. Frequent trumpet bursts from Mark O'Keeffe punctuated the musical drift.

The ramshackle venue of the Empty Space was in tune with the piece, but, as movements began and ended with Gilpin on the floor, the lack of tiered seating was an oversight. This, though, was an elegantly controlled performance; Gilpin imbued some of the movements with an almost glacial pace and gravity that was enormously impressive.

• Show concluded LAURENCE MACKIN

What is the stars?

*****Brilliant

****Good

*** More good than bad

** More bad than good

* Bad

• The Dublin Fringe Festival runs until Sun, Sept 21. For details, see www.fringefest.com