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BWW Review: OBJECT PIGGY - I'm an Extraordinary Machine

According to acclaimed director Peter Brook, any empty space can be used as a stage. All it takes is a performer entering a scene while a spectator watches, and a platform is mounted for theatre and dance. The claim is not as easily made for aerial dance, which with its dependency on technology - whether a circus hoop or tree branch - seems only possible in a mechanised space.

If fetishisation of machinery is part of aerial play, Emily Aoibheann cranks it up in this dazzling experiment for Dying Breeds. The vocabulary of the form is literally unraveled as silks drop to the ground during Saar Rombout's ascension into the air. Her turns in a steel hoop are set to Brian Walsh's marching drum and lit by a circling spotlight, manipulating circus iconography but with an unsettling twist: Rombout poses self-possessed in the ring, as if seduced by steel.

The fascinating dynamics of Nadine Cullen's costumes, co-designed by Aoibheann, could be taken straight out of Oskar Schlemmer's sketchbook, the iconic costumer of the legendary Bauhaus art school in Germany. Annique Van Niekerk dances on marbles in a lyotard made of nylon socks, which when arched is imaginable as a pouch to contain the toys. Most playful is Abagail Evan's spin from a Spanish web, during which the threads on her costume drop to transform her into a human tassel.

The costuming extraordinarily turns performers into ornaments, as interrelations between bodies and materiality are succinctly guessed in the Lir studio, fitted here as a type of performance laboratory. Laser beams lower in Gavin Xmas's incredible lighting, and are cut through with reflective tiles like buzzing saws to the factory floor sounds of Rob Mirolo's ear-shredding score.

The shapes fused in Aoibheann's industrial production show the mechanical taking over. But after Rombout's frolicsome tangle in a cloud swing, she's eventually released and let glide sweetly on the rope. From that flight of freedom, the equipment seems magical but intuitive, like an extension of the soul.

Object Piggy runs at The Lir (Studio 1) as part of Tiger Dublin Fringe until 20 Sept. For more information and tickets, see the Fringe wesite.

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From This Author Chris McCormack

Chris McCormack is a theatre critic based in Dublin. He blogs on and writes for A Younger Theatre, Irish Theatre Magazine and the Arts (read more...)