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Concept Choreography Oona Doherty
Sound David Holmes
Light/Set Ciaran Bagnall & Lisa Mary Barry
Projections Jack Pheelan
Voice Janie Doherty, Packy Lee, Lourler Roddy.
Photo/Film Luca Truffarelli
Stage Manager Siobhan Barber
Producer Gabrielle Veyssiere O.D Works
Episode I Ryan O'Neil
Episode II Local girls in collaboration with venue/Festival
Episode III John Scott & Sam Finnegan
Episode IV Ryan O'Neil
Guardians of the gates
Local boys in collaboration with venue/Festival
There’s a brilliant voiceover in Hard to Be Soft, in which a young woman describes herself and her friends in Oona Doherty’s home town of Belfast: “This little bubble that has tragedy in the walls.” Their defiance has a physical manifestation, she says, the importance of putting on a good face. “If you’re in a shit-hole but you look fucking amazing there’s something really empowering about that … They’re superstars in this granite-like stagnancy … just for putting on their armour and getting on with the day.”
In Hard to be Soft, Doherty elevates the defiance, pride and resilience of the tough, sometimes maligned working-class men and women around her, while scratching at the vulnerability underneath. All the while, choral voices rise in charged crescendo, underlining the beauty and horror that religion has bestowed on this city and these lives.
She is only at the outset of her career but Doherty’s shows at this year’s Edinburgh international festival and Dance Umbrella made her look like the most exciting young voice in contemporary dance. The chameleonic choreographer herself transformed into callow yet cocksure young men, sour-faced and swaggering, putting up a brittle shell against the world. Purely as a piece of physical metamorphosis it was masterful, but Doherty’s work is so much more than that. LW Read the full review.