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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2019: On Ice

On Ice by Suzanne Grotenhuis. Image by Jeroen Broeckx


Get Your Skates On

Dutch theatre artist, Suzanne Grotenhuis, bought an ice rink because…well, she’ll get to that. In the meantime, she’s going to try distract you. Because she’s trying to distract herself from…well, she’ll get to that too, If Grotenhuis’ “On Ice” plods along like an absurdist stand-up routine with too little comedy going on, you almost forgive it everything because of Grotenhuis disarming and endearing personality. Almost, but not entirely.

Partially because Grotenhuis, during those too infrequent moments when she plays with physical comedy, is an absolutely joy. Skating around in her tuxedo, struggling to stand upright, performing a Tommy Cooper styled magic trick, Grotenhuis proves to be a sheer delight, her tuxedo aspiring to a dignity that only heightens the humour. Yet such moments prove the exception rather than the rule, with Grotenhuis opting to talk relentlessly about living on Mars, and that time in Ikea. Like a precocious child re-enacting their endlessly eventful day in school, Grotenhuis’ stories of time capsules and decluttering her life are overly long and indulgent, as are tales of Blind Willie Johnson and Swan Lake, even if they prove revealing. If it all lends itself to an innocent, cutesy charm, listening to the endless show and tell of every thought from her life‘s most recent escapades gradually wears thin. Until near the end when the truth is finally out and “On Ice” brings it home; everything that preceded proving to be just an effort to work up the courage to accept the truth. That our hearts can explode with loneliness if we’re not careful. And Mars isn’t really a great place to live.

Can we really declutter the past? Endearing and disarming in equal measure, Grotenhuis autobiographical ramblings with environmental undertones deliver a delicate study in loneliness, of losing sight of what’s important, and of finding our way through the desert back to our place beneath the Milky Way. If her absurdist ramblings won’t appeal to everyone, Grotenhuis proves utterly irresistible as a solo swan on her own personal Swan Lake, wearing her heart on her sleeve instead of evading it. What now? Let’s find out.

One final thing: to the lady in the black beret, scarf, shawl, and white dress, and to those of a similar disposition. If you can’t stay off your phone during a performance: leave. If you’re bored: leave. Persistently reading your phone for the majority of the performance is not just inconsiderate, it’s disrespectful and distracting to both the performers and those in the audience around you. If you can’t leave your phone alone, leave the theatre to those who actually want to be there.

“On Ice” by Suzanne Grotenhuis runs as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 at The Peacock Stage of The Abbey Theatre until Sept 21.

For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2019 or The Abbey Theatre.

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