September 12 2011

Bird With Boy
Kilmainham Gaol
***** Five stars

Staging a show in Kilmainham Gaol allows emotions and imagination to race, linger and plummet by turn. In Bird with Boy, which engages deeply with the fabric and resonances of this historic environment, Junk Ensemble collaborating with Jo Timmins have delivered a finely produced dance theatre work; unsettling, raw and even beautiful.

As we latter-day prison visitors follow our guides around the dark, low-ceilinged corridors, the ensemble of nine performers (including six young boys) create fragments of stories and past memories in and around those cavernous, shadowy spaces, the cramped cells, chilly and candlelit, the open bare yards with towering walls. The counterpointing and texturing can be heartbreaking. A hand, gently placing soft feathers on bared skin, harbouring shoulders and body wrapping of man, woman, child against the unyielding grey stone walls or snow heaped on the concrete floor. Human lives trapped like the boys' caged golden birds. With the echoes of song and percussive soundscape in the hallways, the heart could sing too in memory of human fortitude or simply crumple.

Seona MacReamoinn