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What Is Not Ours to Carry review: Ali Clarke is mesmerising in this immersive experience

Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: The dancer and choreographer contorts and shapes her body with meticulous care in a masterly performance

What Is Not Ours to Carry

Samuel Beckett Theatre

As with many contemporary-dance performances, the moments leading up to this show introduce elements of the show itself, like the antechamber to a grand ballroom. As we take our seats, the isolated figure of the dancer and choreographer Ali Clarke paces restlessly inside a large cube, its wooden frame covered with diaphanous material and flanked by two figures dressed in white, the musicians Carla Costa and Ruben Monteiro.

Smoke pours from a grate in the middle of the floor, softly illuminated by fluorescent tubes in the wooden beams, which provides a visual counterpoint to the ambient drone filling the air. Monteiro and Costa are virtuosic: as the show unfolds they create a bedrock of sound, like a synthesis of Mediterranean folk music and psychedelic electronica.

At the centre is Clarke, whose presence is mesmerising. Her performance revolves around a sequence of carefully considered poses that bear a strong resemblance to the stances of iconic figures in classical antiquity: think The Birth of Venus or Laocoön and His Sons. This confident display soon becomes ungrounded, however, as though Clarke’s protagonist suffers a loss of faith in her role, and movements that were fluid begin to stutter and fail.

This breakdown precipitates a change in the dynamics of the fictional space; in an especially vivid moment, Clarke’s hand emerges from the cube.


Released from her confines, what follows is an inspired routine that reveals the mastery of Clarke’s art, as she contorts and shapes her body with meticulous care in mimicking the posture of another.

A fully immersive experience that leaves a lasting impact. Highly recommended.

Continues at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, until Friday, September 22nd