Derek West, 13th September 2011
Follow makes a lyre out of the Lir – this richly inventive production plays upon the space, fusing the available technology of sound, light and LED captioning, to amplify a compelling performance by Shane O’Reilly. The experience of deafness and the striving to communicate has been interrogated by the processes of theatre. If, as director Sophie Motley’s programme note contends, Irish Sign Language (ISL) is “a perfunctory language”, here, through a rhythmic dance of words and sounds, it is synthesised into grace notes.
Although there is only one person on the floor (his image tripled through use of full-length mirrors) O’Reilly is intimately bound to three people, fully visible on two scaffolding rigs, who provide a constantly-fluctuating light-and-soundscape for the action. It is backstage both laid bare and totally integrated into the piece.
Composer Jack Cawley provides major atmospheric support – his guitar is both pounded and played, becoming an additional character; Sarah Jane Sheils’s design maximises the use of shadow, darkness and directional light.
O’Reilly speaks an absorbing body language, often charged with urgency, panic, frustration. He recreates elegantly the element of water and the graphic horrors of curry-tummy – incessantly, restlessly inventive.
Every journey to the theatre commences in hope (too often dashed) – here it is totally justified.