Director: Louise White
Reviewer: Ciara L. Murphy
Set in a disused commercial space just off Dublin’s trendy Smithfield Square, Mother You is a subtle show which invites its audience to ponder at the creator’s intentions.
Programmed as an ‘immersive’ event, this reviewer feels that this stretches the limits of what immersive performance is. The action of Mother You is understated, and a little bit cryptic, which works well in the surroundings but sadly fails to immerse the audience in the performance’s action in the truest sense of the word. In this reviewer’s opinion this promenade style performance is more observational, even voyeuristic, but it is not immersive. There is no audience participation, and the theatrical frame is never even slightly challenged. At most the audience is asked to hold a torch and eat a biscuit, but all while standing and sitting in our designated spectating areas. There is no merging of the fragile lines between who is performing and who is spectating. This style of performance in itself is no issue and arguably befits the director’s intentions. It is only when it is described as ‘immersive’ does this become problematic.
Throughout Mother You the audience is led on a bog walk, into a horticulture class, and various reincarnations of town meetings and practices. The effect is somewhat jarring, but in a good way. Instead of being led by the hand through this multi-faceted piece, White challenges her audience to try and find the connections between the scenes. The set, designed by Lian Bell, fuses the harsh and clinical environment of Block B, with the rough, earthy setting of a small community whose lives are affected by bog life.
Mother You is charming but lacks the thrill of its intended immersive theatre. Perhaps if the audience could have been utilised more the opportunity for some truly reflective and personal moments could have been augmented. Although at the end of the performance White’s aim for the piece becomes clear, there is more than one confusing moment within the play’s action. However in the opinion of this reviewer, the balance of space and the theatrical challenging of the traditional performance structure are worth a look in this piece. The juxtaposition of Smithfield’s recently gentrified backdrop coupled with the rustic charm of rural Ireland is excellently carried out. Certainly something a little different in this year’s Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival, Mother You is worth a visit for any theatre fan.
Photo courtesy of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. Runs until September 20th as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival.