Dublin Theatre Festival 2017: Fruits of Labor
Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll
Belgian artist, Miet Warlop, has gone and got herself a band, and a roadie. Featuring Joppe Tanghe, Wietse Tanghe, Timothy Coenen and Seppe Cosyns, Warlop’s bunch of musical matadors look like they spend as much on hair products as they do on musical instruments. All for the sake of “Fruits of Labor,” a theatrically musical performance with some high-minded aspirations. Yet you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, and for seeing “Fruits of Labor” as an irreverent, musical send up. In truth, “Fruits of Labor” offers the best of both worlds. For if it offers music constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed, within a stunningly visual, and often thought provoking performance, it also delivers a laugh out loud, hilariously funny send up of music and musicians, who all deliver a kick ass set in this genuinely uplifting experience.
In “Fruits of Labor” Warlop channels the punk ethos of ‘Fuck Art: Let’s Dance’ to create art. Or at least a mesmerising, sonic and visual theatrical performance. Or concert, if you prefer. The lines are distinctly blurred, with "Fruits of Labor" once again offering the best of all worlds. Featuring possibly the most expressive drummer on the planet, a bassist with some serious dance moves, and a guitarist with a love for Unchained Melody, “Fruits of Labor” sees multi-instrumental musicians hack their axes and kits through a cram packed performance referencing everything from punk, jazz-funk, opera, and good old classic rock. It may look all fun and playful, with lyrics you’re unlikely to remember on the way home, but “Fruits of Labor” delivers killer hooks, riffs, and bass-lines, along with more sulphur, smoke, and incense than might be found at an Alice Cooper, Cradle of Filth, or Wednesday 13 concert. A gentle reminder that music can be a supremely theatrical discipline. Warlop herself proves to be no shrinking violet when it comes to musical performance, delivering some strong vocals and a bass line or two. A trumpet-playing roadie keeps all manner of madness and mayhem running smoothly, including an ingeniously clever, and gigantic, styrofoam block.
“Fruits of Labor” might begin all neat and clean, with clear harmonies and a sparkly Warlop rotating like a silver Oscar, but in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, she and her band ensure they totally wreck the joint by the end of the performance. The effect is almost cathartic as fountains of colour, rotating musicians, and a genuinely infectious score bring it all to a magnificent end. For some Warlop might seem to be engaged in a great rock ‘n’ roll swindle, delivering a performance that’s having too much fun to be taken seriously. But “Fruits of Labor” is serious good fun, pushing at the boundaries of theatre, music, art, and performance, to create a visual and musical spectacle that’s a pure, unadulterated joy. “Fruits of Labor” might indeed be only rock ‘n’ roll, but you’re most likely going to love it.
“Fruits of Labor” by Miet Warlop runs at The Samuel Beckett Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2017 until October 15th