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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Accents

Accents. Image by Sarah Doyle.


Accents. Talk about an uninviting title. Sounds like a shite podcast, or a treatise on regional dialects for a linguistics course. Exploring how social, cultural and class values are attributed to how people speak. And sure, there's that. But that's like saying Ulysses is a book about two blokes roaming around a city. It's about Dublin, its joys and horrors. About the pains and joys of life. About a loudmouth with dangerous ideas and a married man with a big heart. About fathers and sons and a husband who still adores their wife. It's poetry, prose and music all rolled into one, and yet it's immeasurably more. It is one of the finest testaments to being alive out there and it is irressistible. And no, I'm not talking about Ulysses. I'm talking about Accents.

Whatever its recognisable references, Accents is its own unique universe with its own gravitational pull. Expanding and contracting to a celestial rhythm driven by writer and spoken word artist Emmet Kirwin. Kirwin being its Big Bang beginning and glorious end, pulsating life-affirming energies through words and movement. Accompanied by three live musicians performing an exquisite support score by Eoin French. It could almost be a concert, but under Claire O'Reilly's sensitive direction Kirwin is the focus, being all you see and all you need to see. Talking of the recent birth of his son, the forty-two year old father finds himself trekking through his own personal Hades, looking for release. Facing down the demons of Dublin and the terrors of Tallaght, along with their joys. Enduring personal hells and painful memories in an endless quests for heaven. Glimpsed in the eyes of a mother and son now the fulcrum of all meaning. A proud man steeped in working class poetry who just wants to raise a family.

With Accents, Kirwin bequeaths his son a sense of place, history, family, belonging, even as he's forced to face how scared he is he won't be able to protect him. Especially in boys club Dublin where politics make it impossible to find a house to make a home. With its heart wrought longings and private promises made public, Accents serves up an evisceration of the soul, a digging deep, then digging deeper. Whatever emotional armour you wear it won't protect you from the tornado that is Kirwin, shattering himself like a shower of glass. Leaving you, at least once, feeling a lump in your throat as a truth you forgot, or don't dare to remember, asks of you. It asks of Kirwin. Repeatedly. He rises beautifully to the task each time. Theatrically, Accents is simplicity itself, succeeding brilliantly at what it sets out to achieve. Performatively, it's a soul searing, tour de force.

Accents, written and performed by Emmet Kirwan, music by Eoin French & directed by Claire O'Reilly, presented by Project Arts Centre and Kate Ferris in association with Mermaid Arts Centre, runs as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2002 at Project Arts Centre until September 17.

For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2022


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