THE REVIEWS HUB ★★★★
Soldier Still – Project Arts Centre, Dublin
10 September 2017
The military is a “murder machine” and Officer Tom Clonan’s primary role was to choreograph serious acts of violence. But “We are born to love, not kill”.
This is the main sentiment underlying Junk Ensembles invigorating new production which comes to the Project Arts Centre as part of this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival.
Combining elements of dance, movement, musical score and narrative testimony, Soldier Still offers a dynamic and rich contemporary contemplation of the trauma of militant violence.
The piece makes use of red smoke cartridges and splashes of neon paint in its aestheticization of violence. Denis Clohessy’s atmospheric composition alongside Sabine Dargent’s sparse white set design effectively set the tone for a unique exploration of power dynamics.
Former officer Clonan is the soldier of the pieces title. He embodies ideas of power, control and hierarchy throughout. His dancer counterparts (Geir Hytten, Lucia Kickham, Julia Koenig and Fernando Balsera Pita) follow his lead and obey his commands. At moments, Clonan’s powerful status and high ranking are dramatically physicalized as his fellow performers literally hold him at the top of a human pyramid. Yet creators Jessica and Megan Kennedy effectively prove that the pain of violence impacts more than those directly involved in wartime.
Performer Kickham may have left the army life behind, but her past relentlessly haunts her. She cannot escape the role of soldier which dangerously transcends the boundaries of the barracks, effecting the performance of her private life. Kickham’s character embodies ideas of repetition, regimentation, conditioning and violence associated with military regimes.
But the company are carful to show the multifaceted nature of violence. In parts the piece cleverly manages to physicalize the more subtle acts of verbal, emotional and mental violence and how these acts can impact on individual’s lives.
Through the use of the physical body in performance the piece exposes the dangerous consequences that controlled militant violence can have on the human psyche.
THE REVIEWS HUB review of Soldier Still, Dublin Fringe Festival 2017