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  • Chris O'Rourke

Glisten/Eleanora Salter and the Monster from the Sea

Eleanora Salter and the Monster from the Sea. Image Cait Fahey.

Two one woman shows, two marvellous performances. Though technically the curiously named Eleanora Salter and the Monster from the Sea ***, written by Jane Madden and performed by Clodagh Mooney Duggan, could arguably be viewed as a two woman show. A tall tale of love in a lighthouse, steeped in retro charm, early signs are not always promising courtesy of sloppy attention to detail. A set that looks like the wiring cabinet for a large building and a sound design that often resembles the M50 port tunnel initially prove underwhelming. If sound improves and is often impressive courtesy of various eccentric radio operators and a wireless with a mind of its own, there's still the conflicting visual messages. The wireless, record player, and absence of a TV suggest a time period closer to the Fifties. Until Joan Jett reminds us all why she loves rock'n' roll and you begin to wonder when exactly is all this taking place?

Madden's quirky tale of an orphaned Daddy's girl looking for love but finding something better takes time to find its feet, then goes nowhere particularly surprising. Yet there's a beguiling simplicity and childlike innocence that hooks you into this often funny tale of a lonely lighthouse keeper standing before a disembodied voice asking it to love her. It would be a stretch to say there's an interrogation of long distance relationships, or relationships lived online, but there's a pervasive sense of the need for someone so close yet so far away. Beautifully conveyed by Clodagh Mooney Duggan. Mooney Duggan displays a classic expressiveness whose face conveys depths of character and whose presence holds your attention single-handedly. Ensuring that while Eleanora Salter might well win your heart, you come away more than a little impressed with Mooney Duggan.

Glisten. Image by Frank Carlin

While all that glistens is not gold, (or glisters for the pedantic) Glisten **** by Isabella Oberländer has more than its fair share of golden moments. In a cell of white light a struggle for release begins. What follows is twenty-five minutes of dance in which no part of the body is left unused, right down to the expressive use of breath. Throughout, there's a restlessness, an agitation, expressions of fear and ferocity as the body pushes and pulls to create patterns, revisit patterns, amend patterns with exquisite attention to detail. With hands frequently sweeping overhead, eyes locked on some far off place, slowly a fluidity emerges, a greater sense of flow if not always of direction. Yet Glisten's creativity can never find its end, only a pushing of itself as far as it can go followed by a long, lingering pause for breath.

Despite talk of a realm beyond the binary and imagining the future together Glisten turns out to be a monologue, often speaking more to alienation and otherness. Becoming a personal revelation by Oberländer. And Oberländer is indeed a revelation. Arguably the best twenty-five minutes you'll spend this festival.

Eleanora Salter and the Monster from the Sea, written by Jane Madden and performed by Clodagh Mooney Duggan, runs at Bewleys Cafe Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2021 until September 18.

Eleanora Salter and the Monster from the Sea was developed as part of DUETS, an artist support initiative made with the combined expertise of Irish Theatre Institute, Fishamble: The New Play Company and Dublin Fringe Festival.

Glisten by Isabella Oberländer runs at Smock Alley Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2021 until September 18.

Glisten was commissioned and co-produced by Dance Limerick.

For more information visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2021.


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