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DUBLIN FRINGE FESTIVAL: We Are A Tribe – The Chocolate Factory, Dublin

Creator: I Have a Tribe
Reviewer: Sarah Hoover

A classic theatre game, Music Machine, involves each part of a group repeating a specific noise (pop, hum, clap, crow, etc), and a leader directing the volume and rhythm of each section. Patrick O Laoghaire’s unique, sampled folk-pop sound as I Have a Tribe is opened up in We Are a Tribe so that we can all play this game.

Just as he gives band members a vocal riff to imitate with drums or synth, he gives the audience a tune, a rhythm, a sound to repeat and weaves these into his music, cueing sections of the audience with kitschy home-grown drum-and-cymbal light rigs. The audience responds; O Laoghaire had quite a tribe attend the Saturday show. His fans, familiar with his ethereal sounds, committed to the music-making with enthusiasm.

The ritual of music-making is a traditional way to draw a community together, and the relaxed atmosphere of The Chocolate Factory helps the process along by likewise relaxing the rules of being in a theatrical audience – as does the friendly sharing of BYO beverages. But, fortunately, O Laoghaire also directs parts of the audience to complete complex rhythms and harmonies, encouraging participation for the sheer challenge of it. And the ‘you had to be there’ quality of singing a pop hymn for newlyweds Fiona and Dave, using their names as counterpoint…. You really did just have to be there.

There may be a missed opportunity here for O Laoghaire to push for more creativity – to move beyond the direct imitation of call and response to a more improvised jazz partnership with some of the audience. Relinquishing a little control could put him in the position of facilitator of tribal genius, rather than ritual maker. Still, the sounds I Have a Tribe makes are moving and beautiful, and it is charming to become part of them.

Runs until 17 September 2017 | Image: Contributed

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