Dublin Fringe Festival 2018: Caged
There’s been an explosion in recent years of works exploring gender, as well as circus and aerial based acts. Which means the standard has been raised considerably on both accounts. Against which an invested “Caged” by Femme Bizzare often holds it own, with some fine moments on display. Yet despite its two committed performances, it also falls short in a number of places too.
Theatrically its songs, dances, theatrical images, and aerial work, which explore questions of gender, often prove less than compelling. If always energetic, dancing and physical images often look loose and unfocused. An impressive puppeteering opening establishes “Caged’s” own internal barometer against which several other images often fall short. Short aerial routines are certainly impressive, but only in the way that any routine of that nature is impressive. Routines rarely look outstanding, or unique, aside from a brilliant Joseph and Mary sex demonstration which alone is worth the price of admission. It’s often left to some sterling work by Kevin Smith’s lighting and Michael Stapleton’s sound to add a veneer of intensity.
Thematically, its gender exploration covers a lot of old ground. Very old ground. Songs, costumes, ideas, and sound bites, often reference the easy target of the 1950s and 1960s. We may not have moved on completely from a holy Catholic Ireland, but many of those gender issues (the stigma of unplanned parenthood) feel a little dated today, while scenes exploring physical abuse still resonate.
Impressive in the way all aerial displays are impressive, “Caged” has a lot of energy and delivers two committed performances from Kate Finnegan and Jade O’Connor. But it needs to raise its game and be smarter at times. Something both Finnegan and O’Connor show they are supremely capable of doing.
“Caged” by Femme Bizarre runs at Smock Alley Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 15