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  • Chris O'Rourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: The Crow's Way

The Crow's Way by Moonfish. Image by Pato Cassinoni


Myths speak to our shared humanity in ways history never could. But even myths get old. Their rituals stale and stiff. Life moves on and myths need to evolve. The myth of humanity’s mastery over animals being a case in point. Its re-evaluation forming a through line through the multi-disciplinary The Crow’s Way, devised by Moonfish. A fairytale in which friendship with animals and being true to yourself might lead us all on a new dance.

The Crow's Way by Moonfish. Image by Pato Cassinoni

Not that everything needs to get thrown out when reshaping a myth. It’s also an opportunity to reclaim things. In this case, the Irish language which functions beautifully to link new and old, the modern and the mythical. Marvellously captured in Lian Bell’s set, as confined as a radio booth and as cavernous as a forest. Made mesmerising for being married to Blú Hanley astonishing lighting design; lanterns burning like eyes in the dark, or home fires behind bright village windows. A village protected from wolves by an annual ritual that cannot be deviated from. Until the misfit Cuán puts everyone in danger. Fleeing to the forest, he’s pursued by best friend Gerda. On a journey writ large in almost every comparative myth and fairytale. A hero’s journey through darkness and danger to find the treasure they need. Looking to undo what’s been done so they might fashion a new tomorrow and a better self. A journey made all the more marvellous for meeting mischievous crows, some merry mice, and a pack of wise wolves along the way.

The Crow's Way by Moonfish. Image by Pato Cassinoni

Theatrically, The Crow’s Way owes much to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, with an added touch of Brechtian distance as performers double up, the props table is visible off stage, and the cast operate as stage hands. And a bewitching cast it is. Jeanne Nicole Ní Ainle, Seoirsín Bashford, Christie Kandiwa, Seán T Ó Meallaigh and Zita Monahan McGowan outstanding whether being troublesome humans or anthropomorphically morphing into loveable animals. True, the crow’s hint of Disney’s Dumbo, the wolves of Jungle Book, and the mice from Cinderella. But The Crow’s Way is aimed at young and old, though not the very young. Proving again that some things in fairytales are worth keeping, even if it is Disney. Proving again that Moonfish make compelling theatre that never skimps on quality, no matter what age it’s aimed at. If anything, The Crow’s Way sees them raising their game knowing myths shape young minds that can shape the future. It’s a fertile field, with many companies exploring similar ground. On the evidence of The Crow’s Way, Moonfish have few equals and none better. Myth makers. Theatre magicians. Storytellers. I defy you not to fall a little in love with Moonfish’s The Crow’s Way. Especially the mice.

The Crow’s Way by Moonfish, co-presented by The Abbey Theatre and Dublin Fringe Festival, runs at the Peacock Stage of The Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2023 until September 23.

For more information visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2023 or The Abbey Theatre

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