Choreography and Performance: Laura Murphy and Rob Heaslip
Director: Tom Creed
Reviewer: Laura Marriott
Expert dancers Laura Murphy and Rob Heaslip have bought their two person dance performance to Dublin’s Project Arts Centre for two nights only.
Wunderbar begins as a 15 minute set piece for 2014’s Dublin Dance Festival and is developed into a full length, 40 minute performance. The magic of the show lies in the fact that Murphy and Heaslip hold the audience’s attention for the duration, making something beautiful look effortless. The performance feels as though only moments have passed when the final curtain falls.
The title Wunderbar comes from the German word meaning ‘wonderful’; which is an appropriate summation of the performance. The pair investigate power play in romantic relationships through form and movement, with each section building on from the last to grow into something ‘wonderful’.
The two dancers’ physical duet explore relationship stability, tension and power to a live score created by Irene Buckle. At the beginning the dancers are close, moving in perfect unison, following each other’s movements while remaining separate. The stage is bare and makes use of only two stage lights, one on either side of the stage to illuminate the drama and tension being bought to life. Precise and expertly choreographed movements seem to plot out the “couple’s” story, their relationship, on the stage. The emptiness of the stage at the beginning echoes the state of their relationship and as the second light switches on the couple become increasingly close, experimenting with the struggle between power and independence. They move through the space on the stage, gradually branching out from their starting positions, which were defined by the presence of the other.
As the dance progresses the movements become almost confrontational as their search for a balance between togetherness and independence takes place in the space between them. At one point close to the end the duo perform a powerful final choreography, holding and pushing each other’s faces away without ever fully breaking apart. The performance ends with Murphy and Heaslip in a reversal of their starting positions encouraging the audience to look deeply into this cyclical performance.
Wunderbar is a compelling physical expression of commonly felt emotions; the entanglement of confusion and desire that constitutes many relationships, and is guaranteed to hold the audience captive throughout.
Photo courtesy of the Project Arts Centre. Runs until January 9th.