As part of their second season of ‘Into the Mire’, Boireannach theatre presents Dealanach at the Vault Festival in Waterloo for a run of just two nights. A devised piece of verbatim theatre, Dealanach asks important questions about what it means to be a woman now, given the misogyny-filled history behind us.
However, for something with such a promising premise, I found Dealanach disappointingly un-thought provoking. The show is made up of small monologues broken up by devised choreography, in perhaps what is supposed to be a physical representation of the content, but one that I felt doesn’t communicate successfully. Without reading the programme and Boireannach’s website, I think I would have walked away with no sense of what Dealanach was about.
I hate to say it, but for the first fifteen minutes of Dealanach I felt like I was watching the most earnest drama game ever. You know those scenes in comedies or dramas that send up fringe shows? That’s what it reminded me of. It was like walking into a satire of fringe theatre. There was no narrative, story or any kind of central thread throughout, making 45 minutes feel like a much longer. The set design of a muddy stage – literally, the actors perform on a layer of dirt – is cool, and the whole room smells earthy. What the point of it is, I don’t really know, unless to symbolise the Adam and Eve story: from dust we can and to dust we shall return etc. What it certainly does do is offer the actresses plenty of chance to writhe around in the mud and pick up piles of dirt for no apparent reason.
However, the show picks up with some of the monologue moments. Samantha Alice particularly stands out, achieving that rare thing of making you forget you are watching a performance. Her song is also enchanting, its eerie, folky sound fitting in rather well with the earthiness of the set. Indeed, the singing (also arranged by Alice) throughout Dealanach is beautiful – more of that, please.
If you are going to go and see it, I would recommend reading this blog post first, because I sense that the rehearsal process was probably incredibly interesting. I get the feeling that all the thoughts are there and all the ideas have been developed, but for me it just does not communicate in the final play. I can’t fault the performances, particularly in light of the copious movement and vocal work on show here, and the set and lighting are just right. Something, however, doesn’t quite join up.
Dealanach played at The Vaults as part of the Vault Festival 2015. For more information, see the Vault Festival website.