The Humours of Bandon (4 stars)

The Humours of Bandon

credit: Patrick Redmond

Golden yarn about the world of Irish dancing

Writer-performer Margaret McAuliffe spins a yarn of gold about the world of Irish dancing in this solo show, a monologue punctuated by flashes of her own mastery of the dance. Riverdance may have made some of the steps universally recognisable, but here the steps are only the iceberg's tip of a sprawling world of relationships, power battles, self-esteem struggles and blind passion – as knotty as the Celtic emblems embroidered on the famous traditional dresses.

We follow teenager Annie though three appearances at the open championships, each with its own life lesson to teach her about winning and losing. Meanwhile, she has to navigate pressure from her teacher, well-meaning support from her mother, and the unfairness of her rival having a dance teacher for a father.

McAuliffe's script is neatly crafted and flows with an easy warmth that makes time fly in her company. Neither scorning nor putting the dance on a pedestal, the play leaves you with the same mixed feelings as Annie: awe at the discipline required, frustration and curiosity in equal measure at the ingrained traditions, and respect for any child who learns about the spirit of competition and compassion in such a unique environment.

Dance Base, until 27 Aug (not 14 & 21), 6.30pm, £12 (£10).

The Humours of Bandon

  • 4 stars

Fishamble: The New Play Company From the confines of every parochial hall in Ireland, Irish dancing champions are churned out at a massive rate. Medals and cups build up in drawing rooms and Riverdance swells a national pride, but the public aren’t privy to the blood, sweat and tears that pave the way to the first…

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