Dublin Theatre Festival: Dusk Ahead

'Dusk Ahead' by junk ensemble as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photo: Fionn Morgan

'Dusk Ahead' by junk ensemble as part of Dublin Theatre Festival. Photo: Fionn Morgan

Our eyes follow the three blindfolded figures tentatively moving onto the stage, seduced, as they are, into the foggy half-lit world of the approaching night which junk ensemble dance company create in this new work. It is a meditative journey into the blurred terrain between the familiar and the strange, dream and reality, power and vulnerability, but deftly guided with clarity and a lightness of touch which makes it compelling.

Small handbells, carried by the other two dancers, ring out to orient the dancers before they remove the blindfolds and enter fully into this mysterious kingdom where both human and animal shapes shift and morph into one another. Framed with Sabine Dargent’s design of tautened and burnished strings of wire, like glittering strands of Rapunzel’s hair, in Sarah Jane Shiels’ dreamy crepuscular light, the dancers summon a series of images and episodic sequences.

Like characters from fable and fairytale, they accustom to this strange light and its possibilities. One dancer, as if suddenly waking from a dream, seems astonished that that she is holding another dancer horizontally to her body, like a package she might have been handed in the foggy evening, and lets him fall. Dancers clamber onto one another’s necks and backs peering and peeking like woodland animals or determined to remain entwined, Justine Cooper and Ramona Nazgabcynski braid their plaits together as they dance. In one wondrous sequence a couple secure togetherness with a magical kiss, their bodies, arms and legs in graceful and mesmeric motion rotate and shape around this fulcrum of sealed lips. In another image, we see a dancer become an elegant strutting ostrich, all fussy plumage, plunging its head in the sand, as unseeing as a blindfolded human.

This shadowy time, between the dog and the wolf – entre chien et loup as the French say – is not unfamiliar ground for the imagination of choreographers Megan and Jessica Kennedy who find rich material in those fallible places where the domestic and the wild, memory and fact collide. Innocence is often tinged with the scent of danger and so it is here. The sweetness and eeriness of Denis Clohessy’s evocative score adds to the atmosphere and is played primarily by cellist Zoe Reardon but also betimes by the dancers, now a band of strolling minstrels, singing softly and plucking a range of stringed instruments as if they had strayed from a Shakespearean idyll. But then anything seemed possible in this skilfully wrought work of illusion and disenchantment from an ever imaginative company.

Star rating: ★★★★

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Dublin Theatre Festival: Dusk Ahead by junk ensemble

1 - 6 October 2013

Produced by junk ensemble
In Project Arts Centre

Concept and Choreography: Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy

Visual and Costume Design: Sabine Dargent

Sound Composition and Design: Denis Clohessy

Lighting Design: Sarah Jane Shiels

Musician: Zoe Reardon

With: Justine Cooper, Miguel do Vale, Ramona Nagabczynski, Ryan O’Neill, Jaiotz Osa