These Rooms (Dublin)

Sometimes what makes theatre is a grand narrative, a big event.  But at other times it’s the tiny, fleeting and intimate moments that you could not experience any other way.  And so it is with These Rooms, a new immersive production in Dublin from ANU Productions and CoisCéim Dance Theatre.

In terms of structure, the production carries a lot of the DNA of Angel Meadow (Manchester, 2014), and in fact I suspect that Angel Meadow’s project plan is the basis for this production, which is set in a similar sized building, centred around a bar.  The production flits between 1966, when two young men enter the pub with Nelson’s head from an exploded monument, and the 1916 Battle for North King Street where innocent civilians died.

By the nature of the production, there are many different paths through, some of which are unique one on one experiences, some small group, and some with the entire audience of around thirty.  There are rooms only you might enter, and rooms you will never experience.  There’s a rough narrative, but by  introducing dance throughout, the production becomes more emotional, less tangible, slightly otherworldly.  A man mimics a bird in a small room just off a staircase, trying to escape.  A woman cries on the side of a bath, seeking reassurance.  A TV screen fizzes in a dark room with bullethole shutters.  There is a real sense of unease throughout, a sadness.  Confusion is key, perhaps reflecting how people felt at the time.  A soldier appears then disappears, and I am led running up a set of steps past faces that could be performers or audience.

It’s the fleeting but intense moments where you make the greatest emotional connection, although the larger set scenes are also powerful and engaging, with inventive choreography.  The performances are superb, both in the characters created and in the movement.  The building is just right, very much a character in this performance, and the scenes flow into each other.  You feel you are in the place and time of the production; you start to understand how those people felt.  A highly personal piece of immersive theatre, and so very memorable.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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