Project Arts Centre
My review of Landfall by Niamh Creely coming up just as soon as I borrow a pair of pliers from my neighbour ...
What do you do when the ground is pulled out from under you? Such is the question when the new performance by Ether Productions literally does just that.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, four individuals find themselves marooned on debris in the sky. Using rope and chains they travel from one floating platform to another. Civilization may be crumbling but some things never change; neighbours still quarrel, and unresolved sexual tension may lead you to want to push someone off a cliff. But the acrobats form up when hope presents itself in the form of a faraway garden - an etheral Eden, out of reach.
Pauric Hackett's immense set looks as if it were blasted from a disaster movie, suspending in the air a steel beam and other chunks of industrial wreckage for dancers to launch from. A blanket of smoke robs us of our view of the ground, and it truly feels that we've relocated to the destitute heavens.
It's a very smart concept, to dramatically remove what would otherwise break the illusion of an aerial dance performance: the ground. It doesn't always follow through though, and the danger of the scenario can feel lost. Some maneuvers feel more like a demonstration of a skill set rather than furthering any action of desperate escape or prevention from falling. Perhaps aerialists have to train themselves to not show fear in the air but when they can let us glimpse it here it leads to the the stronger movements, such as Timmy O'Sullivan's mid-air wrestle with a rope, which creates the greatest feeling of desperation in this nightmarish scenario.
Whatever flaws you identify, it's impossible to take your eyes off the damn thing. From Niamh Creely's elegant graces from a circus hoop to Jonathan Walsh's slick turns and Aisling Ní Cheallaigh's feral flights, this company of dancers swing with the spell of a hypnotist's pendulum. A sexy and skilled production, one may hope that the aerialists in Landfall never find the ground.
What did everybody else think?