Fame between the jigs and the reels
Fame costs in the cutthroat world of Irish Dancing. For a young, Irish dancer with eyes wide on the Irish Open Championship title, you pay in constant practice, torturous bendies and heavy velvet costumes. In a world where the winner takes it all and the loser gets chicken nuggets for consolation, it’s all mathematical precision with no margin for error. But if fame comes at a cost, what exactly is the price, and is it worth paying? In the award-winning, one woman show, “The Humours of Bandon,” writer and performer Margaret McAuliffe offers a charming glimpse into the ruthless world of the Irish Dancing Feis, in a wonderfully observed, delightfully funny and utterly engaging production.
Original developed as part of Fishamble’s Show in a Bag, McAuliffe’s script follows the various humours of the passionate, if sometimes petulant teenager, Annie O’Loughlin-Harte, as she aims for her first All-Ireland title. Supported by her long-suffering mother, her insufferable dance teacher, Assumpta, and a host of friends and randomers, Annie strikes out for her moment in the spotlight in the Tallaght Basketball Arena. With an ego as big as it is fragile, Annie begins to grasp that passion and politics often make poor bedfellows, and that knowing the cost of something is not the same as knowing its value. In the end, moments in the spotlight may be quite different than when imagined, and the question can arise: who exactly is the smooth criminal standing in the spotlight?
Richly observed and wonderfully funny, “The Humours of Bandon” is both a clever and engaging script, even if it sometimes falls victim to its own success. With its secondary characters more compelling than its lead on occasion, it can take awhile to warm to Annie, even if she ultimately emerges victorious. Referencing yet ignoring Riverdance, the unspoken elephant in the room, proves to be a curious decision, the handling, or lack of, impacting on the power of the ending a little. As does the almost magical appearance of a delightfully appropriate, if wildly inappropriate dance tune. Thankfully all is saved at the crucial moment by McAuliffe, dancer and performer, who is sublime in this coming of age, coming to self-realisation, comedy. Director Stefanie Preissner keeps things moving along perfectly throughout, and does a terrific job in eliciting a strong performance from McAuliffe.
Funny, touching, and deeply moving, “The Humours of Bandon” won the Bewleys Little Gem Award at The Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival 2016. And deservedly so. For it is indeed a little gem. For if dance kills, “The Humours of Bandon” slays, in a hilarious and heart warming production that is not to be missed.
“The Humours of Bandon” by Margaret McAuliffe, produced by Fishamble: The New Play Company, runs at The Pavilion Theatre until February 8th before going on national tour.
For more information on tour dates, visit Fishamble: The New Play Company