Thursday, 26 February 2009


25/2/09, Barbican Pit.

1 hr, no interval. One man show, Out of Time, by the Irish dancer.

We'd seen him in a Fabulous Beast production at the Pit last year: a spectacular dancer with a gift for self-parody and a witty spoken delivery.

This one-man show was almost exclusively dance. It was sweaty: he changed his clothes two or three times. And sometimes it was breathtaking. He put microphones on his shoes to create a rhythm as infectious as Fred Astaire, and danced along to an audio track which was either his own pre-recorded steps or perhaps a delayed echo of his actual steps. Either way it created highly intricate sound patterns (full marks to Fionan de Bana, who designed and operated the sound). At other times he slowed the steps right down, deconstructing the dance.

The only speech came in a routine called "rashers and sausages", the mnemonic dancers use to remember the rhythm of one particular Irish dance, which Dunne used as the jumping off point for a wonderful, rather surreal verbal riff that was genuinely funny as well as mirroring the relentless overlapping patterns of Irish dance.

Highlights: the video of traditional dancers, several filmed in television studios in the 1980s, with audiences in a circle watching rapt as dancers in beautiful shiny brogues and three-piece suits went through their dazzling paces, arms at their sides, faces set in a mask of concentration. There was one (apparently silent) film of four men dancing in a row and taking solos, filmed at some agricultural event, wearing tweed suits and in one case plus-fours.

The best clip was of a ten-year old Dunne in brown kilt on Blue Peter, showng why he'd won some Irish dancing trophy. At the end he was interviewed, and spoke up smartly if a little breathlessly in a perfect Brummie accent, for that was where he came from. Today the adult Colin Dunne speaks a mid-Atlantic Irish-American English which slips and slides often (though with considerably less discipline than his feet).

On You Tube I found videos of him dancing in Riverdance, of which hewas clearky a star. Yet this show makes no mention f that except elliptically, in a line about some of the finest Irish dancerrs selling out. I thought he was talking about Flatley. Maybe he was talking about himself.
He's technically astonishing and I couldn't fault the staging, but I didn't quite see the point. Perhaps more narrative and context would have helped, or no narrative at all, just a virtuoso display and even more sweat-soaked shirts.

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