Directors: David Bolger & Louise Lowe
Reviewer: Laura Marriott
ANU have returned to Dublin Theatre Festival with an immersive live theatre performance created in collaboration with CoisCéim Dance Theatre Group. Together they have created These Rooms a truly unique experience that incorporates film, dance, visual art and theatre.
ANU often tackle the history of Ireland. Recent years have given them ample material to work with as they have investigated the history, memory and legacy of the First World War and the 1916 Easter Rising. They have done this with great success, their recent production of Pals: The Irish at Gallipoliat Collins Barracks winning multiple theatre awards. With These Rooms ANU take a rather unusual way of dealing with 1916; exploring the lives of the bystanders and civilians whose homes on North King Street were invaded. 15 civilians were killed by British soldiers. The consequences were devastating and ANU use the eye witness testimonies of 38 female voices to piece this story together and the effect it had over the coming years. It is an important reminder of how the great political moments of an age have intensely personal and individual consequences.
Entering the performance venue from the street audience members are ushered into a bar with chairs and tables dotted about the space. As people file in and take their seats scenes of black and white footage of the 1966 commemorations of the 1916 Rising are shown on a small television. The footage of 1966 asks the question: who does the Rising belong too? In whose name was the action taken?
Performers take their positions within the audience, physically taking you on a journey through the different rooms of the house. ANU have been cited in the Irish Times as being Ireland’s leading site–specific specialists and for good reason. As These Rooms show the building is just as much a player in the piece as each performer. Behind the closed pub doors the trauma and memories are locked away from view. The attention to detail is stunning. This is a physical and intimate piece, sometimes uncomfortably so, that is ambitious in its attempt to engage the audience with their social history. Experience Irish history and revolutionary theatre at close hand with this excellent performance of These Rooms.
Runs until 16 October as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival | Image: contributed