DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: Owing to the Failure of – The Workman’s Club, Dublin

Writer: Zoë Comyns

Director: Catríona McLaughlin

Reviewer: Saoirse Anton


In the small Vintage Room of Workman’s, an audience listens to sounds, sounds that tell a story. As ZoëComyns reminds us, none of us can ever experience true silence, there is always sound. But what effects can those sounds have? Set up like a live podcast, Owing to the Failure of tells a heart-breaking story of a crumbling relationship through layers of sound and language.

A love story told through Marconi Code seems unlikely. After all, Marconi Code is practical, a collection of phrases chosen for their functionality in travel and trade, not exactly a language of love. And yet, as the two characters overcome their language barriers by communicating their feelings through the phrases in a pair of 100-year-old Marconi Code books, the audience is enveloped in the words of two people falling in and out of love.

Comyns’s script expertly weaves narrative and memory, using recorded voices along with her live performance to bring her thoughts into the minds of her audience. Paired with the simple set, made up of a curtain of earphones, and Brendan Rehill and Brendan Jenkinson’s quadrophonic sound design made this a beautiful piece that can be described in the same words Comyns used to describe sound – energy making tiny journeys from a maker to a mind.

Using “shorthand snaps for detailed expressions,” Comyns brings to life the possibilities and limitations of language making Owing to the Failure ofa beautiful exploration of sound, communication, and love.


Runs until 22 September 2018 | Image: Emily Quinn

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The Ireland team is currently under the editorship of Laura Marriott. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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