Writer: Laurent Gaudé
Director: Olwen Fouéré and Emma Martin
Reviewer: Saoirse Anton
The daughter of Morob is trying to find him. Upon learning that his body is missing from its grave, she sets out with her pack of dogs to find the Long Kesh ex-political prisoner. However, it soon transpires that this magic-realist play is about much more than just the recovery of the corpse, it is about a woman coming to an understanding of the death of her father and finding Morob, the person rather than Morob, the corpse.
The piece opens with a strong physical segment, moving quickly from the slow pre-set movement around the set and building to an intense combat between performers in which words and movement clash with breathtaking results. However, this level of interplay between text and physicality is not sustained and such choreography is used less as the text takes over. This detracts somewhat from the energy and power of the piece, as lengthy monologues lose themselves at points and go for more where less may have been more effective. The repeated motifs in the text, a technique that one would recognise from other Emergency Room works such as riverrrun, do not carry the text forward in the way one might expect, instead slowing the pacing and giving the text a static quality at times. Even though the lead role is powerfully performed by Olwen Fouéré, whose voice could command the attention of a theatre even if she was only reading a shopping list or telephone directory. However, the text seems to weigh the performance down.
Despite this, there were many interesting questions raised alongside the central father/daughter story. There were questions of connection and communication brought to the fore in interactions between the characters during the seated monologues, and in the sense of self interrogation in many of Fouéré’s pieces. This also leads to contemplation of questions of identity – to what extent is the lead character defined in relationship to Morob? How much does she define herself along that plane? This is developed as the narration moves from first person to second and third. The detachment of the use of the third person towards the end conveys a strong message about Fouéré’s character’s identity as the Daughter of Morob.
The daughter of Morob appears to be a prisoner herself (though why or to whom we cannot be sure), and this is conveyed effectively through Molly O’Cathain’s costumes which are created with an excellently balanced colour-palette that compliments and is complimented by Sinéad Wallace’s striking lighting design. Wallace’s design subtly suggests the opposition between the clear-cut lines of the place versus the hazy or murky internal experience of Fouéré’s character. José Miguel Jimenez and Luca Truffarelli’s AV elements create intense experiences of the search for Morob, but the fact that they are projected behind the characters and, along with Wallace’s lighting design, disrupts the sense of space and gives the audience the impression that they are experiencing the internal world of Fouéré’s character. One gets the impression that the daughter’s search for Morob may actually have taken place in one room, in one space. It is, as mentioned before, not just a physical search, but journey to finding an understanding of Morob and his death.
Danse, Morob is a visually stunning production that is hindered by a stilted text.
Runs until 28 January 2017 | Image: Contributed