Saturday, September 23, 2006

REVIEW: John Moran and his Neighbour Saori (Players Theatre, Dublin)

At last! Some real no-nonsense, bone fide, collapsing-on-the-floor-in-a- fit-of-stoner-giggling crazy people. You’d think that the Fringe would be full of this type of folks, but they’re actually quite rare. In fact, you have to import them specially. John Moran and his neighbour, Saori, are indeed neighbours, from Brooklyn, NY. He’s a Nebraska-born composer, sound artist and protégé of Phillip Glass. She is a Japanese-born dancer.

“We do stuff that isn’t really like anything you’ve seen before,” Saori helpfully warns us, before John stumbles on stage, begins laughing hysterically, sees an imaginary cat and falls to the floor breathless with mirth. Is he pretending? Is this the act? This a test, right? Before you can answer any of those questions with a word, the pair have tuned the audience to their particular, strange but beautiful frequency – I still have no idea how they did this – and we are off.

Off into a world of in which opera librettos are composed from little snatches of dialogue overheard at a McDonald’s counter, repeated endlessly, a world in which record players are built from 15 sounds, a world in which a hypnotically beautiful dancer does her intricate geometric choreography to the sound of car horns, cash tills, snatches of mobile phone conversations, Bach and Neil Young.

The great thing about John Moran and his neighbour Saori is that they manage to combine this anarchic experimental bent with some deeply honourable notions about keeping in touch with the audience. Alongside the electro-acoustic compositions and the sound collages and dancing, there is always storytelling; jokes, even, woven into passages of lyrical abstraction. So, while there is plenty to say about the show's avant garde assault on form, that almost seems secondary when faced with something so charming, loveable and entertaining.

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