BWW Review: THE HUMOURS OF BANDON, Brighthelm Centre
What craic! The Humours of Bandon is a delightful peek into the world of Irish Dancing Championships. Written and performed by Margaret McAuliffe and directed by Stefanie Preissner, this one-woman show tells the story of schoolgirl Annie over the course of a few years as she juggles schoolwork and national-level dancing competitions.
McAuliffe hops around the stage as teenaged Annie, full of enthusiasm for the dancing she so loves. She switches to play dancer mothers and instructors with ease, and hilariously exaggerates the personalities of the characters Annie comes across as she treads the boards of the Irish Open Dancing Championships.
The set very simply dressed: a table, which cleverly doubles as the layout of the basketball court where the dancing competitions take place. Minimal props are used, such as the "bendies" - hair curlers that are meticulously (and painfully) wound into the heads of young dancers the night before a performance.
McAuliffe is dressed in appropriate green active wear and gets to show off her dancing skills at various points throughout the piece. These are mainly short bursts of choreography, making the crowd want more, and finally the audience get to delight in seeing Annie dance to her heart's content.
For those only familiar with Riverdance, this piece is also an educational insight into the different types of Irish Dancing on the Emerald Isle. Competitions often involve three rounds and have a rather unusual scoring system. The show title is the name of one of the traditional dances that features in such contests. From the voices I could hear around me in the audience, many Irish people local to Brighton came along and enjoyed this narrative depicting their own culture.
That said, this show is for all - whether Celtic or not - who remember having a serious hobby through school. The drama of the nervousness and militancy of school contests is hilariously depicted by McAuliffe. It's a delightful piece that leaves you with a tune in your head and a smile on your face.
Photo credit: George Carter