First Night: Five ways to drown

Sue Conley

We all know what to expect when we enter a theatre: we troop dutifully to our appointed seats, or else we grab whatever's available.

In Project's Space Upstairs, people generally cluster in the section that is immediately accessible from the door -- crossing in front of the huge bank of seats is too performative for some, perhaps, and latecomers hustle past, ducking their heads, as they scramble into the protective anonymity of the audience. Those who failed to neck their jars in good time had another thing coming at junk ensemble's Dublin Dance Festival premiere last week.

Project's space was completely transformed, and spectators were lead, thanks to Aedin Cosgrove's creative set design, up some stairs that were never there before, past a huge terraced platform, and down more stairs to cross the stage to our seats -- an assortment of kitchen and dining room chairs.


We were fully and completely placed in the essence of 'home', and were given to feel the discomfort of visitors who are in a familiar construct, but with an unfamiliar narrative. We recognised 'home', but weren't sure what it was going to mean.

This transformation of space is essential to the work that artistic directors Megan and Jessica Kennedy perform as junk ensemble.

Joined by 11-year-old Joshua Dyson, 70-year-old Mary O'Connor and in-his-prime Lee Clayden, the performance investigated the roles we play, the rules we follow, the desires we thwart and the annoyance of hanging wallpaper, all in the name of family.

The telling of the story was aided by projections (which were sadly under-used as a device), live music, real grass, real water and a couple of trampolines.

What it all meant was that our youth is always with us, and that our twilight years are waiting patiently for us to join them.

If the former is seen merely as neurosis, and the latter perceived with fear, then Five Ways to Drown has given us the opportunity to look at it in a light-hearted, yet moving way.


The choreography and pacing was perfectly pitched, and the skills of all the dancers were used in the best possible fashion.

It's rare to wish that something wasn't over when the lights come up, and this was that very rare thing indeed.

And it also, perhaps, cured a few people of their chronic lack of punctuality.