'The Curious Works of Roger Doyle' follows the life's work of Irish composer Roger Doyle as he prepares for the staging of his first electronic opera in Dublin in 2016.

 

There's a moment in 'The Curious Works of Roger Doyle' where veteran actor Olwen Fouéré describes his work as "speaking with the mothership", and listening to the heavy electronic sounds that's his signature style, it's easy to think he's from another world. Moreover, the archive footage of Doyle - with him placidly explaining a CMI to a bewildered RTÉ presenter - speaks to just how disconnected Doyle was from the Ireland that once was. His work, which pops up in starts and stops throughout the documentary, is ethereal and challenging, not easily placed into any one genre, and is so vividly distinct from anything you'd expect from middle-class North Dublin.

Yet, for all of the experimentation of Doyle's work, the vitality with which he makes his music, and how people speak about his work, the documentary itself feels pedestrian and lacks any kind of visual artistry or imagination. The narration, as well, sounds like a stifled news report and while the opera's rehearsal and eventual performance acts as a throughline for the documentary, it never quite gels together as it should and lingers on it far longer than needed to gets its point across.

Doyle's work really is original and was far ahead of its time, especially considering where he comes from and what was coming out of Ireland at the time. It's a shame that the documentary elucidating his work comes off quite flat.