The Girl Who Believed in Magic – Project Arts Centre, Dublin

First Published April 2015

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THEGIRLWHOBELIEVEDINMAGIC - PAC

Creator: Julie Feeney

Director: Mikel Murfi

The Girl Who Believed in Magic is a unique one woman show by Julie Feeney. Galway born singer, composer and producer Feeney has achieved great success with her self-produced debut album 13 Songs, which won the Choice Music Prize for Irish Album of the Year. Feeney’s third album Clocks went also straight to number one in the Independent Irish Album Charts on its release. Talented and experimental Feeney has bought her one woman show to Dublin’s Project Arts Centre. Songs from her first three albums are featured as are new compositions.

Although magic is mentioned in the title and features throughout the performance love seems to be the key theme that threads from beginning to end. For those unfamiliar with Feeney and her body of work one should be aware that this is not a traditional play, magic show or concert. It is a fusion of music and composition with performance to create something quite unique. Stylised and controlled this is a performance, not a play with a clear narrative.

As the audience enter the theatre the stage is empty except for a transparent screen at the front of the stage, acting as a barrier between performer and audience. Different coloured lights and images are projected onto the screen and the stage behind with Feeney often interacting with these in time to the music. Midway through this screen falls and the performance progressively becomes more intimate. Similarly, Feeney’s voice progressively increases in power throughout.

The costumes were an elaborate and enjoyable part of the performance. Created by couture designer Umit Kutluk each outfit is beautiful and tells a story in its own right. The detailing is excellent; from the glittery dresses to the matching head pieces. Starting the show in white the intensity of the costumes increases in line with the rest of the performance until Feeney is dressed in a powerful red and black ensemble. Wearing very high platform boots Feeney seems to tower above the audience. During the costume changes black and white movie clippings are shown these include a couple falling in love and a clock, counting down the time they have. The costume changes could have been smoother. There were a few moments of silence as the film ended but Feeney was not yet ready to return to the stage.

Interestingly the performance is directed by the multi-talented physical theatre artist Mikel Murfi, who last summer was seen in Enda Walshs’s Ballyturk and is touring his own production: The Man in the Woman’s Shoes. His touch is evident throughout the performance and he and Feeney appear to have worked well on their shared vision for the show.

Feeney is obviously very talented but this show does not give full expression to that, throughout the performance there is a sense of waiting for her voice to take off, which it doesn’t do until the very end. The venue was sold out on the night, half of the audience seemed a little bewildered, but the other half clearly loved every second. This is a unique performance and certainly something to go and see if you would like to do something new or are a fan of Feeney.

Photo courtesy of the Project Arts Centre. Runs until April 11th 2015.

Review Overview

The Public Reviews’ Score: 2.5*

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