JUNK ENSEMBLE
THE IRISH TIMES 9 February 2007

THE RAIN PARTY
Project/Cultivate Centre, Dublin


Audiences probably expect Junk Ensemble's Rain Party to be about rain. Collecting their ticket at Project's box office, they check in their shoes for a pair of wellies, a brolly with individual instructions, and a steaming mug of hot chocolate complete with marshmallow. By the time they process through Temple Bar to the Cultivate Centre, they begin to feel like party guests, but still have to walk the gentle gauntlet of an emptying watercan tipped by an unseen dancer in the passageway to the courtyard.

Here, solitary goldfish peer out of bowls scattered among the plants and a simple chalked trail lead through tiny journeys among the plants that are booby-trapped with tape recorders asking to be played, radios to be tuned and music boxes not to be touched.

Quietly guided to a pair of benches, the guests sit and the two performers appear - identical twins, similarly armed with wellies and brollies. They dance a gently repeating eight count dance phrase, punctuated by anxious glances at a pocket watch. In another part of the garden they prepare a birthday party, in another one of them drowns, and soon thoughts of rain are replaced by memories, and how transient and illusive they are.

This subtle manipulation is at the heart of Megan and Jessica Kennedy's choreography for Junk Ensemble. Choosing simple fable rather than turgid novel — and in Rain Party site specific rather than proscenium — they don't get stressed about choreographic development or structure. That would be almost too pompous: their choice, along with director Jo Timmins, is a more modest facilitation of their audience's imagination where every hint - a frying fish or a packet of Lemsip - is carefully chosen with both a furrowed brow and a knowing wink.

Rain Party reminds us how our memories are as impermanent as the chalk scribbles under rain and as unreliable as the song with made-up words. A Polaroid photo, given to one member of the audience, remains the only evidence of our presence at this party.

MICHAEL SEAVER