Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Celebrating the strength of mature bodies and challenging the cult of youth, the show is a reclaiming of the ageing body created by dance-theatre innovators Junk Ensemble. Performed by acclaimed actor Mikel Murfi and leading dance artist Finola Cronin (formerly of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal), the performers are heroic, vulnerable, comedic and completely themselves in the work. They care fiercely for each other and defend their independence. As they hold each other up and push each other down, the “performance” of age is unpacked as a reminder of ourselves: our worst and our best.
Two people sit on chairs facing us – then what they do is extraordinary. This is a well-developed new piece from award-winning dance-theatre company Junk Ensemble.
Created by artistic directors Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy from Junk Ensemble and the two performers, Finola Cronin and Mikel Murfi the topic is both fascinating and needed – that of “celebrating the strength of aging bodies”. This creative team from Ireland has produced a superb exploration of age in their own way, through dance-theatre and the result is mesmerising.
The two performers in front of us are remarkable not only for what they do and how they perform in this piece but also what they have done before. Finola Cronin, leading dance artist and formerly of Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal and acclaimed actor Mikel Murfi collaborate seemlessly onstage. It is with the foundation and experience of Cronin’s dance-theatre background and Murfi’s physical acting that this piece is so interesting and beautifully performed. They begin by exploring their physicality and movement and then move on to playful challenges. They care about each other and support each other, occasionally disagreeing, which changes the mood and pace. Both are emotive, understated and ready to go – like a bomb – when it’s time!
Cronin and Murfi are very compelling to watch as they share this intriguing intricate physical story. A highlight is their give and take and how the choreography and story is created and performed with an economy of movement and words. When there are words they are impactful to the part of the story and add to the strength of the piece. They may engage in a short conversation, or use words as part of an imrovisation game, which is both funny and realistic – and takes a different focus than similar games we may have seen before. It is also vivid and physical and with sound effects, when needed!
The variety of movement in this piece is wonderful. As Cronin and Murfi perform, their language of dance, theatre, and physical acting merge together, yet each one’s take is specific in these elements, as are their personalities. For example, in one part Murfi throws himself in the air and falls on the ground in a series of stage falls, in another he does fast expansive movement across the stage and does different patterns and rhythms walking. Cronin does a series of angular moves – and then some rhythmic flowing motifs using arms in lower movements that continue up to the side that make you want to join in with her.
This one-hour show is very special. The topic and story is important and very meaningful. The result of the creative team’s exploration is fascinating and it’s performed by two exceptional artists to excruciatingly beautiful music! The visceral artistry of this piece has it all – it is intriguing, witty, strong and tender.