Friday, May 24, 2013

CoisCéim, 'Missing': Come Home

Photo: Ros Kavanagh

Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin Dance Festival
May 23-26

My review of Missing by David Bolger coming up just as soon as I hold your hand ...

A visit to the theatre always involves a task of searching - for what makes a character tick, for the reasons behind their actions, for the logical unraveling of events, etc. There is a sense of something absent in CoisCéim's new dance production but it's not due to any technical fault of the company's. Rather it's the despair of this delicate duet's subject matter - missing persons - and as we look on we realise that despite our searching, not everything can be found.

The Boy's School space in Smock Alley is laid out just as that: an assembly of chairs as if in a school hall. But the occupants are nowhere to be seen. "3,000 people go missing a year in Ireland, and though most are found in the first 24 hours many still remain untraced". Such is one of the findings delivered in between the soft movements of dancers Emma O'Kane and Tom Pritchard. A list of reported reasons for one to vanish is heard, and Eamon Fox's lighting and Ivan Birthistle's music constantly tailor the scene, setting golden light creeping along the stone stage, a swift piano score sending the performers skipping. A feeling of loss catches up with you, so much so that when Pritchard throws his arms desperately open you wish that some absent soul will fall into them.

Photo: Ros Kavanagh

It's the pain of not being able to find a loved one. Another list is delivered, this time detailing the emotional responses of those close to the disappeared. Pritchard's tall and gentle demeanour falls into a trembling of grief, leaving O'Kane to perform the most memorable sequence of the night. In the glow of a candle she moves, radiant and winged, in the airs of Birthistle's soaring strings. O'Kane always has a strong power, and here she shines through the darkness, giving us a sense of faith and hope.

Director David Bolger has dealt with his subject matter with great care. It's not a dance performance in any commercial sense. It's a dance 'vigil', spiritual and true, and as the finale hits home you realise that the missing must never be let slip away from our minds, for fear of vanishing completely.

What did everybody else think?

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