Director and Choreographer: David Bolger
Reviewer: Alan Foran
Cosceim’s newest production is a tribute to the cabaret singer, influential Dublin theatre ‘scenester’ and a singer of songs about life and the human condition, Agnes Bernelle, put together by director and choreographer David Bolger, for the woman who helped inspire his love of theatre. That it is a labour of love and passion comes through in the creation of an extremely visual, yet controlled evening.
Using a soundtrack of Agnes Bernelle’s songs, the dance articulates in some instances the visual of the song, while at other times the emotions, and conjuring up an old world feel, while still being contemporary. There are some very inventive moments throughout, the shadow boxing routine, the swings, and the use of the old, large dirty mirror to reflect it all, works extremely well.
From the opening, the atmosphere is tangible, which unveils this ephemeral world built from varied influences, being evocative of a Berlin from the 30s, the use of the chairs reminiscent of Cabaret, while the male dancers costumes have a Chicago, Fosse touch to them. There is a darkness there, even a harshness, the feeling that something is rumbling underneath, which adds mystic.
Direction is strong, with a keen eye for detail and use of space, when coupled with a fantastic lighting design by Sinead McKenna, which is executed brilliantly, creates a visual treat for the eye, bringing it all together convincingly. The skill of the dancers, bar a few nervous moments early on, is wonderful, a confident and precise performance from all.
There was an unevenness to the evening, with the first section moving well, ably paced, while it did feel to wane a little as it moved through the second, not helped by a swings section, that while striking, went on perhaps too long and became repetitive. The final moments, a homage to Agnes, creating her space and giving her a moment, was a lovely touch.
Agnes is a fine tribute, reminding people of her songs, and starting with the quote that ‘I don’t only sing with my voice’ sets up the fact that dance will sing for her. The use of the recording lets Agnes herself fill up the auditorium, and this really did draw a very mixed audience in. Visually it is wonderful and detailed, transforming the space into its own world.
Photo by Ros Kavanagh. Runs until 22nd March 2014