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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Wake

Wake by THISISPOPBABY: Image Conor Horgan and Niall Sweeney.


Get your glad rags on. THISISPOPBABY are looking to party, and no one parties harder than THISISPOPBABY. Who kick off Dublin Fringe Festival 2022 with a riot. No, not that Riot. This is way more fun. And way hotter. Called Wake, it's about waking all the things that we've lost. As in the old Irish custom of waking the dead. Reminding us that the dead still dance, even if only through us. If that sounds like a barrel of laughs, you're absolutely right. Fun, uplifting and utterly exhilarating, Wake, created by Jennifer Jennings and Phillip McMahon, is the party you didn’t know you needed. An adrenaline shot of joy to the heart.

Wake by THISISPOPBABY: Image Ruth Medjber

As much a solicitation as an invitation, Wake seduces you into taking a walk on your wild side. A wam, bam, thank you Mam (or whatever your preferred designation) of concert, circus, and cabaret. Setting the bar high with a show-stopping rendition of Mary Coughlan's I Wanna Be Seduced, the incomparable Philip Connaughton steals the show early on. We knew Connaughton, who choreographs Wake, could dance, but who knew he could sing and act like a drunk with utter conviction? Work the room like a comedic MC? Striptease to the brink of indecency like an amateur on Pornhub? Connaughton being so enjoyably brilliant, they should invent an award just for him.

Philip Connaughton in Wake by THISISPOPBABY: Image Ruth Medjber.

The first of several aerial acts follows. A ring, an aerialist, and an exquisite balance between tension and effortlessness, it dazzles as much as it blows you away. Coming in a close second to a jaw dropping display of pole dancing that defies gravity. Sexy, sultry, exquisitely executed, it borders on being an art from. A contrast to DJ wannabe Duncan Disorderly and his conspicuously lit backing dancers. Channelling Kevin and Perry for some on-your-feet Nineties club classics, Duncan delivers soul infusing joy by the bucketload. All the while music, played live, speaks to Irishness both traditional and international. As does some gobsmacking spoken words segments, insightful, heartfelt and delightfully humorous. The fun and flawlessness coming not so much in waves as hitting you like a tsunami. Be it two large balls dancing a jig, or a disco ball gymnast strutting their stuff. You are subsumed by the sheer magnificence of it all.

Wake by THISISPOPBABY: Image Ruth Medjber.

A Riverdance for the twenty-first century, Wake redefines what its means to be Irish through glorious celebration. Reclaiming and restructuring the old to claim and structure a new. There's nothing to fear here. Nothing is lost. The singsong of Raglan Road sits easily next to club classics like Freed From Desire or Smalltown Boy, each speaking to different experiences of Irishness in a new inclusiveness. In which no one gets left behind. Young, old, gay straight, bi, trans, indigenous, immigrant, black, white, or any others you care to mention; all are welcome. Wake. It'll destroy you with love, longing, fun and joy. Not to be missed, but rather to be enjoyed again and again. Forget Garth Brooks. Wake is the best show in town.

Wake, by THISISPOPBABY, created by Jennifer Jennings and Phillip McMahon, co-produced by Dublin Fringe Festival in association with the Irish Arts Centre, New York, runs at The National Stadium as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2022 until September 17.

For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2022


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