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The Doppler Effect review at Lyric Theatre, Belfast – ‘delivered with panache and theatrical daring’

The Belfast Ensemble's The Doppler Effect at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
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Audiences enter the Lyric’s stripped-back studio space with open minds and leave with their brains and senses jangling. The Doppler Effect is a pop-up show like nothing seen before in Belfast. As its title suggests, its impact zooms across the consciousness at a brisk rate of knots, rapidly replacing one imprinted visual image and aural binge with another.

Conor Mitchell is an artist who thrives on breaking the mould. With his multi-talented Belfast Ensemble, he has created a heady installation which blends art with physics, the spoken word with the moving body and tumbling light effects with archive news video. Digital clocks combine with speeding traffic and nightclub frenzy. At the show’s epicentre is a young man born around the time of the Good Friday Agreement and growing up in ‘the new Belfast’. This is as concrete as it gets.

Described as an experiment for actors, instruments and lights, this bold, challenging piece pushes back the barriers of theatrical convention while remaining disciplined and precise in the accomplishment of its intentions.

A large gauze cube encases the musicians on a raised platform, at whose centre Francis Mezza performs a muscular combination of yoga postures and dance movement. He is given forceful voice by Abigail McGibbon, in command of a non-stop stream of consciousness and semantic somersaults. Walk around the perimeter of the cube and perspectives change, pulling you in or shoving you out.

In control of proceedings behind the keyboard is Mitchell himself, artfully drawing the whole thing together with a style heavily influenced by European tradition.

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Verdict
An assault on the senses delivered with style, panache and theatrical daring
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