If a wake is the ritual marking of a death in Ireland, this new creation from Jennifer Jennings, Phillip McMahon and Niall Sweeney of Thisispopbaby injects the cultural tradition with new life. In a post-pandemic world they see the wake as a symbol of rebirth: the rebirth of connection, intimacy and what Dylan Coburn Gray’s narrative poem — which is performed by Felicia Olusanya in the high-priestess role and provides a loose structure to 90 minutes of physical play — calls “hereness”. It is a celebration of live performance and of being alive.
Alma Kelliher’s musical composition blends traditional folk airs with electronica and a heavy dose of sampling from 1990s dance music. Philip Connaughton’s choreography does much the same: think Riverdance for the club queens. Some of the routines — jigs performed by dancers wearing giant balloons instead of wigs — would be a bit gimmicky were the performers not so talented. With Irish uncles and English cousins — a shout out to DJ Duncan Disorderly (Emer Dineen) — Wake is comfortingly familiar and delightfully subversive: a brilliant night out.