Photo credit:Cáit Fahey
A treasure found in letting go
As the Tiger Dublin Fringe gets into full swing, you might be having second thoughts on booking those 6.30p.m. time slots. With the grime and dust of the day still on you, and your head space still preoccupied with the to-do-list you call your life, that performance can feel like the last thing you want right now. But those out of the ordinary time slots are often where the hidden treasure is discovered. A case in point is The Peacock stage, where there’s a little piece of magic taking place. So let go. Forget your mindfulness class. Forget your yoga lesson. Forget your spa treatment or going home. Make for The Peacock instead. And book yourself a ticket for Aoife McAtamney’s exquiste ‘Age of Transition.’ You may enter exhausted, but you’ll leave revived. For ‘Age of Transition’ is one of those truly captivating works, so good it restores the soul.
Essentially a song cycle, ‘Age of Transition’ explores themes of community and self-actualisation, with three musicians and three dancers giving physical and musical expression to its soft stated themes. McAtamney forges a link between both disciplines performing as both singer and dancer. With its soundtrack built on cello, played exquisitely by Mary Barnecutt, piano by Michael Gallen and electronics by Ciaran McGann, the whole has a feel of an ambient concept album at times. Indeed, it risks a starkness on occasion. But composer Michael Gallen infuses the music with a haunting and captivating warmth that is utterly irresistible, both soothing and seducing in equal measure.
Dance plays handmaiden to music in ‘Act of Transition’ with dancers Nitsan Margoliat, Juan Corres Benito and Tamar Grosz often sitting motionless at times, or performing several routines in silence, separate to musical accompaniment. Choreography by Berlin's Sweetie Sit Down, is built around a restricted movement palette, with repeated sequences often dominated by simple patterns of hip rotations, steps, and arm extensions above the head, the latter serving as a repeated motif, offering gestures of pulling, pleading, letting go, saying goodbye. Clear patterns provide a template for uniformity shared by all dancers, but space also exists for breaking out into individual sequences on occasion.While The Peacock stage creates a wonderful sense of intimacy, at times it often looks cramped or claustrophobic, making movement feel restrained and the performance a little constrained on the rare occassion. Kelly Tivnan's set design tries to negotiate the difficulties of bodies and instruments in the space, but never really manages to resolve the problem sufficiently, begging the question of what possibilities a more open floor space might bring to ‘Age of Transition.’
In ‘Age of Transition’ McAtamney provides the focal point around which 'Age of Transition's' disparate elements revolve, her voice, movement and presence coalescing all into a consummate performance of grace, power and ease. Throughout, Gallen’s stunningly beautiful soundtrack along with McAtamney’s vocals harmonise perfectly. By the end, ‘Age of Transition’ leaves you feeling renewed as you walk away into the night with a lighter spring in your step. Heart achingly beautiful, you’ll be heartbroken if you miss it.
‘Age of Transition’ by Aoife McAtamney runs at The Abbey Theatre on The Peacock Stage until September 16th
For further information, visit The Abbey Theatre or Tiger Dublin Fringe