DramaGalway Theatre FestivalIrelandReview

Dancing Dogs – Nun’s Island Theatre, Galway

Writer: Timothy O’Mahoney

Director: Eoin O’hAnnrachain

Reviewer: John Singleton

‘Isn’t it awful to have done something wrong and be waiting to be found out?’

This is Dereenathirigy, small town nowhere. Home to the Dancing Dogs.  ‘A place of halves. A nice half, and a not nice half’.

A world of delinquent distractions: suspicion’s and slanders, gossip and goading, mysteries and miseries. All witnessed by ‘Murphy and Him’, themselves observed by a growing body of crows, like something from a Hitchcock movie.

Sharp, well-paced dialogue, from leads Irene Kelleher and Tommy Harris, draws you into this purgatory of paranoia, insecurity, regret, and doubt, where the only certainty is the continual mysteries Murphy and Him uncover – Why are the crows watching them?  Why is Nuala Leary dead? And why did taxi men like her so much? Could Mr. Ben really the be the ‘TeaBag Killer, The Barry’s Butcher?

But most importantly: “Where are you, when you’re not here?”

Tommy Harris’s bustling physicality expands the blank space of the bare stage to encompass an entire world from the bus stops and shops of Dereenathirigy to the face of Mount Everest. But it is Kelleher who commands throughout. In an assured performance Kelleher ranges between naked vulnerability and impenetrable invincibility. It is a testament to Kelleher’s control and magnetism that the intensity never dwindles under the volume of dialogue she carries. Both characters spiral through cycles of fear and anger, depression and rejection, yet, it is in moments of tenderness, the often claustrophobic intimacy between Murphy and Him, where the action is at its best.

Eoin O’hAnnrachain’s direction is restrained, allowing subtle lighting and consistent manipulation of space to creates a sense of continuity of place that is at once everywhere and nowhere.

The script is perhaps slightly baggy in places: too many overblown descriptions of the weather. However, it is Kelleher’s controlled intensity that impresses most.

Dancing Dogs is an engaging performances about the desire for invisibility and the fear of never being seen, where ‘the future’s already happened. There’s only the past now’.

Runs until 22 April 2017 | Image: Contributed

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