Reviews DublinReviews Published 16 September 2016

Review: Fist Pump at the Dublin Fringe

The Lir ⋄ 14th - 16th September 2016

Chris McCormack is sucked into 90s rave culture to explore a woman’s perspective on the world, at the Dublin Fringe.

Chris McCormack
Fist Pump was performed at The Lir as part of the Dublin Fringe 2016.

Fist Pump was performed at The Lir as part of the Dublin Fringe 2016.

The nineties may be over but the party’s still going on. It’s been three decades since the first taste of acid house ushered ravers into unoccupied warehouses under a spell of deep baselines and hypnotising beats. Those strobe-lit days haven’t been left behind completely; the underground club scene in Ireland is currently undergoing a resurgence.

Dance-theatre company RAK (Rebecca Warner, Áine Stapleton and Karen Gleeson) borrow from that scene quite literally. The audience are handed glow-sticks on arrival to a smoke-filled auditorium cut by flickering lights. But there’s also a sense that rave, with its mix of self-possession and psychedelia, is an appropriate frame for how women experience the world. Life is hard, and bliss, whether drug-induced or not, is ignorance.

This leads to stunning displays: the trilling shapes of dancers’ bodies backlit by Ferdia Cahill’s pulsing lights, and a spectacular gallery of costumes combining nudity, body paint, neon bikinis and ponchos. There are occasional flashes of humour (“My costume is handmade” explains Stapleton, a long-time Fringe warrior who, true to form, is mostly naked).

With equal share of the labour, each performer has a narrative throughout. Warner (the only one without dance training) keeps a mean step while explaining how she met a boyfriend on Tinder. Distracted in a desire to rush the future, her present becomes an unhealthy picture of dependency. A grieving daughter is dressed up as a raver in Gleeson’s shuffles, leading us on an expected path to healing. Stapleton combines vulnerability and strength – a naked figure adorned only by a sharp glitter hood stolen from Grace Jones’s wardrobe – for a stark portrayal of an abusive relationship. Meanwhile, trippy music videos play between traumas, as if placed to take the edge off.

It still feels like an experiment. The individual vignettes tend to spark and fizzle without clearly marked beginnings and endings. Without their edge, the many video interludes allow the staging to lose steam completely. A committee approach to direction might be to blame for the lack of punctuation, whereas a single eye might be better placed to clean up and carve out clarity.

That means that at the end of the evening, after a confusing video montage of explosions ad nauseam, the audience are unsure whether to continue holding their glow sticks or clap. Then again, maybe that chaos is reflective of women’s experiences navigating a reality so confounding in its unfairness it could be hallucinatory.

Fist Pump is on until 16th September at The Lir. Click here for more details. 

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Chris McCormack is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Fist Pump at the Dublin Fringe Show Info


Produced by RAK

Directed by Rebecca Warner, Karen Gleeson and Áine Stapleton

Written by Rebecca Warner, Karen Gleeson and Áine Stapleton

Choreography by Rebecca Warner, Karen Gleeson and Áine Stapleton

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