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DUBLIN THEATRE FESTIVAL: Crisis Meeting – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Writer: Bjarni Jónsson

Director: Friðgneir Einarsson

Reviewer: Saoirse Anton

During Crisis Meeting, one of the performers tells the audience that “Simplicity is very complicated.” This line, in a few different ways, encapsulates the production quite effectively.

Inviting the audience to share in their experiences, working methods, and arts council application process, the three members of Kriðpleir Theatre Group decide to stage their crisis meeting after losing confidence in their work due to poor reviews. The three performers are each dealing with the poor review differently, one works harder, one studies and one falls into silent meditation. As the production builds towards Friðger Einarsson breaking his silence, Árni Vihljálmsson and Ragnar Ísleifur Bragason share some of the group’s history as well as some of their own personal stories.

This performance is engagingly open and self-aware, with the performers making jokes about their own performance, operating sound and lighting on stage, and passing around the budget plan for their application. There are many playful moments in the text and the performers make full use of this with mischievous comic timing. This is offset effectively by Einarsson’s intense, dry humour as he lays out some of the important messages of the production.

This is where the seeming simplicity of this theatrical meeting reveals its complexity. As one tries to add up the stories with each other and with reality, one begins to question the nature of fact and of the presentation of supposed truth, and to consider whether clarification of the division between fact and fiction is even necessary when it comes to portraying a message on stage. Alongside this, the production is very aware of the art form in which it is operating, exposing some of the less pleasant aspects of theatre. As the personal stories, so willingly shared earlier when the teller had control, are taken from their originators and pushed into being content or “material” for a production, they lose their vivacity and honesty. They are taking away the personal connection with the audience that has been the backbone of the production thus far. In doing this, Crisis Meeting prompts its audience to ask questions about ethical storytelling, personal artistic freedom, inspiration and criticism.

In what seems on the surface to be a simple sharing of ideas and information, Crisis Meeting adeptly blurs the lines between fact and fiction, interrogates its genre and leaves the audience with myriad questions and the beginnings of answers.

Runs until 2 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: contributed

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