Review: PaperDolls present Constellations at the Fringe Festival

September 19, 2012 in Reviews

Constellations is the latest Fringe show from Dublin based aerial performers the PaperDolls. They attempt to push the boundaries of aerial acrobatics in this new show using live music and darker undertones.

As with a lot of Dublin Fringe Festival shows, categorisation of this performance is exceedingly difficult. Is it dance? Is it athletics? It’s not quite a circus act, and there are definitely no clowns.

Upon arrival, we are handed earplugs and warned to “stay within the white lines, or you may be kicked in the head”. The tone for the evening is correctly set.

Death metal band WÖLFBAIT perform throughout, setting the perfect backdrop for some Japanese bondage-style suspension, aerial acrobatics and theatrics.

The theme seems to be exploring movement through restriction. The performers work with the traditional trapeze, single ropes hanging from the ceiling as well as self-suspension by tying themselves up before being suspended.

The venue becomes as much a part of the production as the performers, inviting the audience to become part of the show by sitting on the floor and surrounding the acts.

Maximising the comparatively low ceilings, the performers are closer to eye level – which, coupled with the darkness and dramatic lighting, heightens the level of intimacy within the venue.

When imagining trapeze acts flying through the air, associations of freedom and ease spring to mind. Constellations is the opposite end of the spectrum, with associations of being trapped and failing to escape.

The crowd is still in shock when the show finishes. It is only as we roll out on to the quiet street outside that choruses of “I have no words” and “amazing” can be heard. No-one seems able to coherently verbalise the aesthetic we had previously witnessed in anything other than D4 soundbites.

Afterwards, when our jaws were scraped off the floor we spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out what it was, and how to describe it. Suffice to say we loved it and debated going to see it again the following night.

If you’re looking for Cirque du Soleil, keep walking because you won’t find that kind of glitter here – only darkness and intensity.

Constellations is on until Saturday 22nd September 2012. Tickets are available on

PaperDolls/ Constellations from Emily Aoibheann on Vimeo.