Listowel Syndrome is presented as a reponse to events in Kerry earlier this year, when up to fifty men and women lined a court room to shake hands with a local man who had just been convicted of rape.
Written, directed and choreographed by Emma Martin, this thirty minute piece combines dance, speech, and live musical performance to address this troubling episode. The performance is structured around the four stages of predation, announced into a mic by Noelle Brown as a chorus figure, and elaborated upon in movement by the four dancers and five musicians. This layering of languages effectively captures a certain tension, although its up to Brendan Conroy as an everyman to clearly articulate the underlying bias: "Sometimes wrong is right if it means holding the community together. Local is everything." On occasion, other performers speak too, although it’s unclear whether their words are testimony or fiction.
While the production is laudable as an artistic intervention, it’s a pity that it spreads its focus over the stages of predation, which could apply to any context, and not on the issue of sympathising with the convict, which is a more specific and complex issue. This is the syndrome that the production fails to diagnose.