At first glance, the inclusion of Wrestling is Art, a series of wrestling bouts in the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival, may seem a little strange, but it seems less so when the performative nature and barefaced showmanship is taken into account. Indeed, this reviewer walked into the show without any idea of what to expect, having little or no knowledge of the sport itself. As represented by Over the Top Wresting (OTT), Ireland’s WWE-inspired wrestling company, the show features veteran theatre actor Aonghus Og McAnally, an avid wrestling fan himself, acting as the ring announcer. I took my seat and waited for show to begin, the music from the P.A. throbbing in my ears, and the first bout kicked off in earnest.
And I loved every minute of it. Tables were broken, chairs were used, a rugby ball hurled into the crowd, the character ‘Session Moth’ deploying her finishing move which involved a brutal use of condoms on a male opponent, there were wild flips and acrobatics through the ropes, a wrestling team called Kings of the North, a rumble fight wherein the ref was almost knocked out, and mocking chants of “Where’s your passport?” to a British heel. Once the tongue-in-cheek became clear, I happily embraced the violence. From start to finish I was in a state of frenzy, jumping from my seat and bellowing for blood.
Of course, the show must be applauded for its sense of spectacle, situated in the marvellous Speigeltent in Merrion Square. The choreography of each bout was markedly well-crafted and planned out, and while the various narratives and personas between the fighters were occasionally difficult to grasp, each of them carried it off with such deft silliness, and one couldn’t help but enjoy the proceedings. Wrestling is Art is truly worth seeing, and a fine addition to the Fringe.