Hope Hunt & The Ascension Into Lazarus @ Dancebase

A piece of rare quality, Hope Hunt combines immediacy and depth

Review by Roisin O'Brien | 24 Aug 2017
  • Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus

A car is parked in Oona Doherty’s space. We’re on the Grassmarket, pubs and punters spilling onto the cobbled path as Dancebase's ushers try to carve out a viewing space. It’s a tricky environment to own as a performer.

Doherty doesn’t need this projected anxiety; she has already performed Hope Hunt & The Ascension Into Lazarus in prison. She is the tracksuit-wearing, adrenaline-fuelled young man, unwaveringly and violently in control of his environment. As she dances up close to the audience, or volleys questions at them, any responsive laughter is uncertain, nervous. Doherty is a blistering force, tipping these interactions between banter and aggression. ‘Get into the theatre’, she shouts, egging her audience onto the second half.

And Doherty can move. Her dives to the floor are uncompromising, her runs swaggering and scrappy, caught up in the race, the thrill, the fear. Noises spew out of her, becoming words, then sentences, jumping between the languages of the young men of Europe.

It is rare to see a work so immediate, but with so much depth. Doherty succeeds in her self-imposed task, raising her subject matter up: the commitment, the constant struggle, the insatiable energy is disarming in the final throes. Doherty becomes a white-clad figure, alone, her face angrily scrunching up in perseverance, her hands shaking.

Hope Hunt is a hunting pack, a solitary youth, deprivation, blaring club music and, finally, hope. And it is now, it is here, cutting through all the noise to be one of the most important political works this reviewer has seen in a long time.

Hope Hunt & The Ascension Into Lazarus, Dancebase, run ended