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  • Chris O'Rourke

One Moment Now

One Moment Now by Murmuration. Image by Donal Talbot


Strip back the play, strip back performance, strip back the audience, what remains of the theatrical experience? One Moment Now, the latest experiment by theatrical innovators Murmuration, attempts to address such questions in a production where tech gets pushed to the forefront. Or rather tech’s audio component, courtesy of their signature use of headphones. Through which the tale of a young boy accompanying his mother on a visit to his Gran in hospital, immediately followed by a trip to a coffee shop, is gradually conveyed. Meanwhile, coffee beans invite lightweight meditations, and some mindful eavesdropping, to try ground you in the moment, no pun intended.

Narratively, John King and Finbarr Doyle’s lacklustre tale is barely a device, and a weak device at that. Indeed, One Moment Now could relay the weather forecast and it would make little difference to emotional engagement. Or to rekindling that childlike awareness of being surrounded by people talking, eating, drinking in a coffee shop. Mainly because story isn’t the thing, suggesting an opportunity missed. Like a guided Montessori exercise at a mindfulness retreat, the use of beans prove cute, but not exactly brimming with experiential insight. Whose absence is keenly felt as this appears to be the aim; grounding you into the moment now. Which it never deeply grounds you in. Be still and know. Sitting, just sitting and the grass grows by itself. Both take silence, which is missing from this twenty minute exercise aspiring more towards a Zen tea ceremony than a theatrical or dramatic tale well told. In fairness, a five minute silence lingers at the end, but by then the boat has already sailed.

Yet what One Moment Now lacks in narrative or experiential interest, it makes up for in theatrical investigation. If the aim is to create a unique immersive experience, what might be its limits? What of experiences that go beyond its harmless or innocuous parameters? Can theatre be a multi-sensory experience? What of the isolation of the audience? The single soul in a shared room locked inside their own head? For many, contemporary theatre involves lots of companies doing essentially the same play in essentially the same way. Murmuration might keep pace with the play-safe pack in some respects, but they’re peeling away to try carve their own path. Experiments fall short sometimes, as they must. Yet Murmuration continue to bravely experiment at the boundaries of the possible, for which they are to be hugely commended. As is Bewley’s Artist-in-Residence scheme for giving them the space, and place, to fail better on their way to success.

One Moment Now by Murmuration, runs at Bewley’s Café Theatre until May 24 on the following dates and times:

Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays on May 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24

Times: 2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm, 3.30pm, 4pm and 4.30pm

For more information visit Bewley’s Café Theatre


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