Project Arts Centre, Dublin
Rapids are natural phenomena, explains the disarming writer and performer Shaun Dunne: a sudden change in circumstance that lead an ordinary flow into an inexorable surge.
The introduction to his arresting new show with Talking Shop Ensemble seems casual but measured. As he counts out the beats of sudden change – “One. Two. Three.” – television screens behind him flash white. That snap of corresponding media will become a motif in this sophisticated and bracing piece on living with HIV in Ireland. It begins with the idea of disclosure – making the private public – a theme that subtly informs its style of documentary theatre. Slipping between ritual, lecture and performance, it stealthily reveals more and more along the way.
HIV has had an accelerated biography, from a misunderstood virus, to a media scare-story, social stigma and under-reported source of tragedy, and more recently to a manageable condition. The more startling feature in Rapids, against a staggeringly high new rate of infection in Ireland (twice the European average), is how ignorance or ambivalence has allowed the virus to spread again.
“Oprah f**king Winfrey,” marvels a 25-year-old who has contracted the virus,…