Will I See You There review: The experience of this drama is like eavesdropping, on speed

Dublin Fringe Festival: Format is perfectly suited to present circumstances and evokes intense intimacy at great distance

This everyday drama between two people unfolds outside on Meetinghouse Square in Temple Bar

This everyday drama between two people unfolds outside on Meetinghouse Square in Temple Bar

 

Dublin Fringe: Will I See You There

Gallery of Photography
★★★★☆

Forget Perspex screens. This is a live performance, viewed from a distance through a large picture window. Seven of us (seven! Oh, how social distancing limits the possibilities), seated and looking through the upstairs gallery window, wearing headphones, watch and listen as an everyday drama between two people unfolds outside, on Meetinghouse Square in Temple Bar. The headphones and audio make this an intensely intimate experience, despite, or maybe, ironically, partially because of, the large distance.

It follows an accidental encounter between two old friends - Finbarr Doyle and Nessa Matthews - whose last exchange was complicated, full of crossed wires and miscommunication. Their exchange then, and now, plays out the pain and missed opportunities of not listening to, not hearing, what the other is saying. James Elliott’s script (with the company, and co-devisor Danielle Galligan) elliptically teases out the circumstances of their lives in that moment - one home from living abroad after a breakup, the other in a personal housing crisis - as well as each’s yearning to be heard by the other, even while each is deaf to the other.

For the audience the experience of this drama is like eavesdropping, on speed. We are party to each of their inner voices and we also hear their outloud conversation - simultaneously, overlapping, pointing up the disconnects. An additional dramatic and audio layer is a flashback to their previous exchange. And aside from all that, there’s the ambient sound and activity of the public space where they meet. It sounds confusing but each of those layers is clearly enunciated and their interaction is thrilling in Jennifer O’Malley’s innovative, subtle and technically assured audio sound design and composition. We literally hear the subtext.

The company murmuration and James Elliott were doing sound and audio drama (Summertime premiered in Fringe 2018) long before Covid-19, but it is a format perfectly suited to our present circumstances and evokes intense intimacy at great distance. The ironies.

Until September 9th

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