Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: Persona Metropolintina
Persona Metropolintina. Image Elena Costa
The Swedes have cycle lanes. Dublin has psychopaths on cycle paths. The Swedes have effective public transport. We might have it by around 2123. Meanwhile, those who need cars to access the city, such as the old, disabled, and those living with poor public transport, have become persona non grata. Ironic, because while Dublin now strives to be a generic space, the best cities are unique spaces arising from their architecture, history and, most importantly, their people, homegrown and foreign. A generic space being more in mind in Annachiara Vispi (writer and director) and Giulia Macrì’s (choreographer and dancer) Persona Metropolintina. Where Giulia worries that fifty five percent of us live in cities. The number expected to rise to seventy percent by 2050. Two thirds of the planet. Will there be space for each of us? Are those IKEA apartment blocks stacked like glamping kennels the way to go? Informing our dreams on the buckets seats of trains, if you’re lucky enough to get a seat?
If its political interrogations prove lightweight, it has much to do with Persona Metropolintina focusing on transport. Ever present courtesy of Jack Stanley, sitting on the floor, cueing Hannah Bloom’s uninspired, fly on the wall video design, played on an hypnotic loop. Meanwhile, composer Lorenzo, on the opposite side of the stage, mixes some modest music. The stiffness a striking contrast with a captivating Ciara Berkeley as narrator. Welcoming the audience, she puts everyone at ease, the living embodiment of what’s best about a city; reaching across distance to make friends of invisible strangers. Reciting spoken word lyrics like a calming Mike Garry, infusing proceedings with a beguiling cohesion by way of a cleverly understated performance. A perfect foil for silent dancer Giulia Macrì, whose stuttering, stressed choreography suggests the distressed pull and bump of the city. When she’s not sitting, or negotiating with chairs. Then it’s exhausted, lonely daydreams, or worried nightmares, of what might be. A clever comedic moment which sees Berkeley alone onstage speaks to the show’s greatest truth. Before it sells its soul along with its five o’clock crush hour for the fresh, evening air of acceptance. Macrì’s endgame choreography, infused with freeing celebration, looking less like dancing into the future so much as dancing away from the problem.
Who makes the decisions on how and where we live? Why do people move to cities? Persona Metropolintina’s interrogation of urban planning offers some pointed insights, but has few pressing ones. Asking lots of questions but never really questioning anything. Settling for ‘don’t fence me in too much’ without ever defining how small the fences are. In the end Dublin, like all cities, will be shaped by political will. By what gets willed politically. Political agendas, of course, are never neutral. Nor, for that matter, is art. Which, in this instance, serves up cold comfort for the disturbed.
Persona Metropolintina by Annachiara Vispi and Giulia Macrì, runs at Smock Alley Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2023 until September 23.