01 October 2013

Dusk Ahead at Dublin Theatre Festival
by Chris O'Rourke
Star rating: ****

Liminal spaces have rarely looked this good. This particular liminal space being dusk, that time which is neither night nor day, when dogs can look like wolves and blinding shadows breathe with playfulness, passion, violence, mystery and caprice. In Junk Ensemble's Dusk Ahead, opposites come out to play in the shadows and the result is a spellbinding and truly enchanting production.

Performed by five dancers, accompanied by cellist Zoe Ni Riordain, Dusk Ahead begins with blindfolded dancers walking through shadows following the sound of a bell. An excellent sequence with two dancers and a chair is followed by more daring pieces, including a superb segment where two dancers appear locked in a prolonged kiss, their lips never parting, their bodies shifting and twisting in agonizing co-dependency. Patterns emerge throughout and themes begin to recur: blindness, dependency, restriction, relationship. Dancers are joined by mouth, braided hair, rope, chair, blinded by light, shadows, blindfolds, trapped by their blindness, yet often willingly so. Evocative images are articulated, brimming with poetry and dramatic intensity, hinting at hidden meanings in darkening spaces.

Dusk Ahead is played out against a subtle set design by Sabine Dargent, full of shadows, smoke and golden strings like thin shafts of twilight. This is perfectly complimented by an understated yet deeply rich musical score by Dennis Clohessy, both playful and haunting. Choreography by Jessica and Megan Kennedy was exquisite throughout, creating resonant images that were sometimes powerful, sometimes playful but always engaging. Dancers Justine Cooper, Miguel do Vale, Ramona Nagabczynska, Ryan O'Neill and Jaiotz Osa were thrilling, moving, humorous and captivating, crafting beautiful moments deeply suggestive and richly layered. If audience attention was divided between conflicting sequences at some points and the singing was not as clear as it might have been on occasion, these were minor distractions. Dusk Ahead is evocative, imaginative and deeply moving and may well prove to be one of the highlights of this years festival.

Dusk Ahead, is a brave, beautiful production whose physical ingenuity, excellent choreography and exquisite performances are set against a wonderful set and score. Dusk Ahead will grip you like an inescapable kiss, but one you will willing want to surrender to.