**** 4 stars

Friday, February 9, 2007


On arrival at the Project for The Rain Party you're asked to surrender your shoes in return for a pair of wellies and an umbrella, decorated with hand-drawn pictures of fish. To soften the blow you're given some hot chocolate and marshmallows - which seems a fair exchange - before being taken outside and asked as a group to raise your umbrellas, then led through a stretch of Temple Bar to the outdoor location of the site-specific dance piece.

Understandably, a group of bemused-looking people carrying colourful umbrellas on a dry, crisply cold night attracts attention. 'It's not raining!' some lads jn tracksuits helpfully inform us, while an old lady rushes past shaking her head and tutting disapprovingly at our silliness. Thankfully, we are soon taken through a big metal gate where we hear splashing noises and look up to see a pair of pretty girls in wellies sitting on the wall high above, dousing the path with water from watering cans. So begins The Rain Party.

The girls in question are identical twins Jessica and Megan Kennedy, artistic directors of physical theatre company. Junk Ensemble, who have choreographed this piece, in which they are the sole performers. It's based upon the concept of memory and we're led into a garden filled with polaroids scribbled with childhood memories such as 'jumping in the sea and my knickers filling with sand'. It feels as though anything can happen next - and that seems to be the intention behind such thorough audience participation.

Despite the discomfort of the location you feel yourself becoming part of the Kennedys' carefully choreographed world. The contemporary music, ranging from dreamily plinking pianos to raucous Latin American-style dance, perfectly complements the footwork, which is surprisingly graceful given the clunky footwear. Splashing water, cutlery and even a rope to climb from a balcony are just some of the props used in an unconventional performance that's definitely worth getting wet for.