My Name Is Language review: A nicely shameless exercise in name-dropping

Dublin Theatre Festival: Strangers spill personal anecdotes in Nicoline van Harskamp’s essayistic performance piece

 

MY NAME IS LANGUAGE

Wood Quay Venue
★ ★ ★
What’s in a name, Shakespeare’s Juliet once wondered, hoping herself for a little leeway. Quite a lot, suggests this essayistic performance piece from the Dutch artist Nicoline van Harskamp, coproduced by Steirischer Herbst and Project Arts Centre. Taking place in an airless waiting room, where performers sit unrecognised among the audience, it ushers them into intriguing anecdotes and reflections on the politics of nomenclature around the world, a nicely shameless exercise in name-dropping.

In a playful act of simultaneous translation, the spoken text appears behind them on screens, with every name mentioned given its literal meaning. Fonxta (the One who Is Ready to Fight), whose Basque name was forbidden under Franco, speaks first. Successive speakers include a no-nonsense Polish births registrar, explaining international policies and amusing irregularities (an Irish baby named Cuervo, after a tequila brand important to his conception); an am-dram Brian Friel bore, well versed in Translations; an Indian woman alive to the brutal erasures of entirely renaming women after marriage in repressive cultures.

Despite the variety of speakers and an expanse of material, though, this feels like a single thesis divided among speakers, rather than differentiated. A more involving performance might hope to modulate that voice. Here, only the names have been changed.

Run ended

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.