Dublin Theatre Festival: Germinal

Germinal by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort
 as part of Dublin Theatre Festival

Germinal by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort
 as part of Dublin Theatre Festival

Light cuts through an otherwise blacked out set, fading in and out slowly. Given the deliberation, it’s clear we’re not just waiting for a show to start; we’re being invited to reflect upon the technology of beginnings – of theatre productions, of worlds.

When the lights finally come up fully, we see they’re being controlled by the four affectless performers who amble across the stage; looking a lot like nerdy techies who’ve taken a wrong turn. They communicate telepathically, and soon discover they can project their thoughts onto the back wall via keyboards, which engenders a deft and comic classification exercise. Sounds, speech and rhythm follow. When a mic is uprooted from beneath the stage floor, the universe they create is readily separated into ‘poc poc’ (the sound a mic makes when tapped) and ‘not poc poc’. 

Laptops, keyboards, headsets and microphones are not the only things that make up this world, but the theatre’s raw materials are used too – boards are cracked open and repurposed. At one point, when a Microsoft forest wallpaper is projected across the back wall, a tree makes an effort to push through the stage floor, as if the digital is effecting rather than just mediating the ‘real’ world. Which comes first: the tree, the computer or the theatre? 

The company seem to be exploring how theatre technology – from stage materials to digital devices – manufacture worlds on stage. And at the heart of this is the techie, an individual whose presence and labours are rarely seen.

On another level, the performance highlights our compulsion to assign meaning and narrate: here this process feels both smart and absurd. Poc-poc/Not poc-poc: why didn’t I think of that before?

While the performers’ detached approach makes sense within the presentational style of the production, at times the performance needs a bit more carefully managed momentum, especially within the first 45 minutes. It might also have benefitted from and a greater diversity of scenarios which would have explored the boundaries between materiality and representation even further: by the time the four collapse in a pool they construct in the stage floor at the end of the performance, it feels like this theatre of beginnings hasn’t worked quite hard enough to finish just yet. Given the rich initial ideas, you’d be forgiven for expecting the show to go much further.

But this doesn’t detract from it being a smart, witty and stylish production: theatre about theatre, technology, and the world, that also manages to do something itself.

Star rating: ★★★★


  • Review
  • Theatre

Dublin Theatre Festival: Germinal by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort

26-28 September, 2013

Produced by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort

In Project Arts Centre

Conceived by Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort

Lighting and Video: Sébastien Bausseron

Lighting Consultant: Annie Leuridan

Technical Direction: Maël Teillant

Sound: Robin Mignot

Cast: Arnaud Boulogne, Ondine Cloez, Antoine Defoort, Halory Goerger & Mathilde Maillard (Hotline)