Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“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.”
Irish dancing is fascinating to watch and hearing about the life of a girl growing up in this world is just as interesting. Produced by Fishamble: The New Play Company, Margaret McAuliffe wrote and also performs this piece from the point of view of Annie as a young child to the late teens, directed by Stefanie Preissner.
Through storytelling, physical acting and dance we learn about the challenges, hopes and dreams of these young dancers – and their families. McAuliffe is a wonderful performer, she switches from playing a child going through a rigorous routine to prepare her hair by her mother, to becoming her mother or becoming her dance teacher, both pouring out well worn advice and various levels of encouragement – it’s all very entertaining!
By changing her physicality, attitude and voice, McAuliffe speaks the dialogue of other characters and then narrates to the audience, with ease and authenticity. The crafting of this piece is solid, it flows from one topic to the next with fascinating detail about the regular competitions Irish dancers prepare for and aspire to win – with a few other things in between.
The set is spare, and very effective with a large wooden stool and a couple of pairs of Irish dance shoes in one corner. McAuliffe wears a dark green Ireland team bomber jacket, black leggings, mid calf length white socks and special Irish dance shoes made of soft flexible leather with criss cross laces neatly tied. She looks and sounds the part and proves herself a very compelling performer to watch, whether she is telling her stories of doing short Irish dance moves and sequences. McAuliffe becomes Annie 100% and has range and nuance in her delivery so it is always engaging to listen to and easily draws the audience into her world, eager to hear more.
There is humour, pathos, happiness and drama in this piece, it’s charming and spirited, yet not sugar coated. Irish competitive dancing is tough but rewarding and requires a lot of dedication on the part of the young dancers, teachers and parents. This is a wonderful opportunity to see a show that entertains and enlightens about this culture and art form.