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Review: Welcome back to the red lights of 'Monto'


Katie Honan in Vardo

Katie Honan in Vardo

Katie Honan in Vardo

A YOUNG girl asks first for a cigarette and then your help. She tried to steal the statue of the Sacred Heart of Monto from the church in Sean McDermott Street but it broke in her hands. She just wanted to make her new flat nice to welcome home her sister who is just out of jail. A distressed man asks you to pray for his dead father in Nigeria. A slippery pimp steals a Russian prostitute's passport.

You are in Vardo, Anu Productions' latest work, and you the audience have a big part to play. You are in charge of your own decisions, you are implicated in what happens by inaction as much as action, you are complicit in the story.

'Vardo' is the Romany word for 'home' and this is the final piece of Anu Productions' 'Monto Cycle', which has explored four stages of regeneration over the past century in a quarter-square mile of Dublin.

Vardo is set in the present day, a time when civic pride is returning, but a time when prostitution has returned to what was the red light district of Dublin.

There are subtle Anu motifs to link all four productions. This one is more stylised than previous ones, with choreography to remind you that you are at a performance rather than having accidentally entered a world you instantly want to leave.

Under the wonderful direction of Louise Lowe, Vardo explores both the bright new dawn of this area and the bleak truth that underlies that.

Irish Independent