Sunday, May 18, 2014

Veronica Dyas, 'Here & Now': A House is Not a Home

136,564 Irish citizens have residential mortgages in arrears. Does Veronica Dyas' pilgrimage tell us anything new about what makes a home?

Project Arts Centre
Performance: May 15-17
Installation: May 13-17

My review of Here & Now by Veronica Dyas coming up after the jump ...

Veronica Dyas is going in circles. Or at least, her thoughts seem to be.

But by the end of a soul-searching trek along the Camino de Santiago she reaches revelation: not knowing where her home is, she's certain where it isn't.

As one of 136,564 Irish citizens whose residential mortgages are in arrears, she comes back to Dublin, hands over her keys to a tenant, and gives away all her possessions with the exception of some furniture and a schoolbag of notepads. What's left is laid out on the Project Arts Centre stage, free to be examined as part of a visual art exhibition. Here & Now is Veronica Dyas at her most brave and transparent.

It's not often that artists realise theatre in its origins as ritual, transforming and healing. With her 2011 play In My Bed it felt that Dyas' entire world was at stake (recognising the same objects onstage in Here & Now, Dyas' whole material world probably was in that performance), resulting in a sure sense of survival by its end.

This ceremony isn't as complete a circle. While I've no problem with artists being self-effacing, it's unwise to presume that an audience will stand by them. Sometimes demonstrative use of theatricality needs to earn that faith.

Dyas' delivery is rather ineffectual, un-helped by her constant use of microphones and reading from written sources. Around her, the design team try to create visuals that will resonate: José Miguel Jimenez's celestial video projections illustrate a wider universe of possibility while Eoin Winning's golden lighting, like flames from a phoenix, blazes with rebirth.

At its height it creates a sense that thousands of people shouldn't be where they are, their debts the visual markers of Irish sovereignty today. The Camino-inspired rhetoric is less rationally sound. "Nothing ahead is as hard as what you've done". I wish I could believe her but it sounds a little naive.

Elsewhere, her inference is inspiring. With her bed headboard suspended in the air above the stage, glittering in the golden light, it's impossible to not think that Veronica Dyas breathes and dreams theatre. Her life and her art are in unison. Perhaps that will be enough to hope that someday she'll find a home to call her own.

What did everybody else think?

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