Floe­-Joe’s Faces (Just The Tonic @ The Mash House, 24 -30 Aug : 21.00 : 1hr)

“A very entertaining show, with plenty of giggles”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars: Nae Bad

The premise of this character comedy show is very interesting – having three different characters discuss their contribution to the mysterious “Floe-Joe’s” new album, track by track, at its first “listening party”, hosted by the main man. The whole show is underpinned by a selection of what I can only describe as incidental hip-hop – the kind that might play in the lift of a trendy club, which sets out a very clear vibe for the show overall, and its use and styling works very well to cover the transitions between each character, as well as giving each one its own soundtrack.

First up is the drunken and ballsy Irishman Fergyl Walsh, whose brother is Louis Walsh. He rants about being misunderstood and the angst involved in creating the album. It’s a gutsy performance, even if the accent slipped a little from time to time.

Next up is recently graduated RnB singer U (yes, that’s his name), who is desperate to move on from being a hooker (the singer that just sings the “hook” of a song, while the rapper hogs most of the limelight). Compared to the brash Fergyl, U is shy and assuming, and because of that is very likeable. Through various snippets in this section, Fairey also boasts a surprisingly impressive singing voice, and it was a shame not to hear more of it.

The final character of the show is the multi-faceted and over-confident street dancer, Lydia Left, who longs to break away from her dance troupe and achieve the stardom she dreams of. While something of a stereotype that doesn’t bring much uniqueness to the stage, she still manages to get the party started and the whole audience on their feet.

As can be expected of a slightly quirky character comedy, there are various moments when Fairey interacts with the audience -asking us to recount something good that’s happened today, or to predict what song might be playing in our heads. There’s also a great moment at the end where we get the chance to try out a few dance moves on stage, which was actually very refreshing and nowhere near as awkward as one might think.

A couple of the jokes fell a little flat, and there were a few moments that Fairey seemed a little apologetic for the performance, rather than oozing with confidence that a show like this really needs. However, on the whole it was a solid and very entertaining show, with plenty of giggles, and different to anything I’ve seen before.


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Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 27 August)

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Smother (ZOO, 7 – 22 Aug : 18.40 : 55 mins)

“The choreography throughout is outstanding”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars

Smother is a dance piece that loosely covers the theme of relationships, in particular those among gay people. It’s not overtly “gay though”, and doesn’t lose itself in stereotypes, making it very accessible to a wider audience. What is more prominent is just how two people can meet, fall in love, and be affected by an affair, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

The choreography throughout is outstanding, from a full-on hip hop opening number, to more sensuous contemporary sections it explores the party lifestyle, expectation, friendship, infidelity and intimacy. There is a great balance between the big unison group numbers and the more emotive solos and duo sections, while one dancer’s frustration to find anybody to love is made all the more powerful by the constant ignoring of her plight of the performers who walk past her time and again.

Particular highlights include an example of the first awkward encounter in the bedroom getting tangled up in one’s clothes, through to the very emotive trio at the end of the piece, showing how a lover comes between the lead couple to drive them apart. Canon is used very effectively throughout the piece (with one dancer often doing the reverse of their partner), and is powerful enough to show similar thinking, but an ability to communicate it directly.

For a high octane dance piece, performed by a troupe of incredibly lithe and athletic young dancers, it’s also very mature. The overt sexual movements are kept to a minimum, while everyone stays, for the most part, fully clothed. The power comes from engagement between the dancers – their synchronicity (or otherwise) and proximity to one another is enough to show how close they are emotionally and sexually. It’s balanced, detailed and very relatable.

While it’s not quite as hip-hop throughout as the billing suggests (the music perhaps a stronger influence than the choreographic style), the dancers are just as talented at the fast pops and locks as they are with the leaps and lifts in the more contemporary sections. Speaking of the music, it’s a generally a very modern and young selection, at times very lyrically overt, perhaps to aid the narrative, but very effective all the same.

A very  impressive full length debut from 201 Dance Company.

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 15 August)