The Humours of Bandon

This show is a delight. Storytelling with a tiny bit of dance taking us behind the scenes of the competition world of Irish dancing. Produced by Fishamble, Dublin’s New Writing theatre, which brought the five star Underneath to Edinburgh in2015, The Humours of Bandon is equally knock-out and Margaret McAuliffe, the writer and performer is a star.

​This show is a delight.

Even if you’re not an Irish Traditional Dancer, anyone who’s taken part in any kind of dance, or any kind of competition, will recognise the hours, nay years, of practice, the tension, the stress, the rivalry and jealousy, the bitchiness and ‘politics’ behind the scenes. The rest of us can just sit back and enjoy this emotional rollercoaster ride.

Margaret McAuliffe plays 18 year old, Annie O’Lochlan Harte who lives for dance, reminiscing on the eve of the Open Championship. Playing all the beautifully observed characters, McAuliffe also has a terrific ear for accents; Annie’s loyal and long-suffering mother from Cork and her strict teacher, Assumpta a ‘Dub’, and the Northern Irish Noonans who are Annie’s chief rivals. Deft touches bring the characters to life; Stephen Kirwan noted for his ‘Roly Rally’ and Rita Noonan whose very first pose, her pointed toe is similar to throwing down a gauntlet.

We learn the importance of the correct vocabulary; ‘bendies’ for rubber curlers, ‘pumps’ for shoes and McAuliffe demonstrates some basic moves: the rock, the scissors, chops, drum-drum-heel-toe and teaches us essentials like dazzling white socks, why once you reach eighteen you must wear black tights, breathing through your mouth and above all, never miss your place in line. For thereby hangs a tale, but no spoilers here.

The title is a well-known Irish jig performed to a tune of the same name. Bonaparte’s Retreat, a nicely symbolical title, ends the show with a performance of Irish dance from McAuliffe – well worth the wait. We only hear about the ‘massive’ (Dub teenage slang for ‘gorgeous’) dress but you’ll have to look at the poster for that.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

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The Blurb

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 place podium. Triple Fringe First and Olivier Award-winning Fishamble presents this very funny coming of age play about the trials and triumphs of competitive Irish Dancing, for anyone whose childhood passion threatened to overwhelm their life. Supported by Culture Ireland.

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