The Smell of Want
You are what you pay when it comes to theatre seats: whether scrimping to afford a squinty seat in the gods, or splashing out so you can lord it in a plush box. The Irish dance company Fitzgerald Stapleton, have transformed the tiny Project Cube into similar slices of social coding, with ticket prices labelled Winner’s Enclosure, Plebeians, Steerage and one Lovers’ Seat. It might appear gimmicky, but it creates an us-and-them velvet-rope experience even in the egalitarian surrounds of Project
Onstage proceedings are stripped, literally and metaphorically, of such social coding. By performing naked, free of clothes or jewellery, the dancers present a blank canvas for their torrent of vocalisations, childhood stories, off-kilter observations and constant movement. How the audience experiences this depends on their seats and by extension their choice of ticket price, and by extension again their life choices.
The blurring of art and life is at the heart of Emma Fitzgerald and Áine Stapleton’s choreography. They create choreographic scores that outline the structure of the dance, without being prescriptive on the moment-to-moment details. Memories emerge, as if prompted by the movement, like Stapleton recounting how her mother died just before her 50th birthday “because she drank too much” or Fitzgerald’s account of dispassionate sex on lakeside rocks in Scotland. On paper the form might be episodic, but in performance there is a beguiling fluidity and a fascinating tension between memories and experience and the immediacy of the movement.
Carl Harrison, excellent throughout, frequently found himself as a humorous sidekick, hamming up cliched movement or chat-up lines, while the quartet of Conor Donelan, Mark McCabe, Elliot Moriarty and Brian O’Riordan were chorus-like in responding and commenting on the action through chants and movement.
As an expression “the smell of want” suggests hormonal lust, but as theatrical experience The Smell of Want evokes the unattainable, whether it is love, death, regret, consumerism or even seat-envy among the audience.
It is all done in a light-hearted way, but behind Fitzgerald’s mischievous looks and Stapleton’s witticisms is serious artistic intent and confidence in their concept and material.