Anyone familiar with the world of competitive dance will not fail to find this one-woman show about the trials and tribulations of trying to be the best both nostalgic and humorous. Writer and performer Margaret McAuliffe talks and dances the audience through a series of Irish dance competitions before finally coming to a realisation about what she really wants.
To spectators, the world of dance competition is glamorous and exciting; for the dancers, it is sweaty, painful and pressure-filled; and for the parents and teachers, there is stress, nerves, and in the case of Annie’s (McAuliffe’s protagonist of the piece) mother, a hilarious lack of understanding.
McAuliffe plays all the characters involved in the play including her strict dance teacher, supportive but clueless mother and a fellow competitor with just a subtle change of mannerisms and voice. She clearly has an insider’s knowledge of the dance circuit and uses it to excellent effect showing off her dancing skills and providing not just laughs but a thought-provoking look at what it is like to be consumed by an activity which nobody else seems to understand.
They don’t understand that your hair takes painstaking hours to perfect, they don’t understand that your costume costs the same as their first car, they don’t understand that competitive dance is not about having fun (but that doesn’t mean you’re not enjoying yourself) and they don’t understand the intricacies of the steps, the different types of competition and the hours of practice that go in to making you the best. But here McAuliffe gives even those with no understanding a witty overview of the world of Irish dance although the audience members who have been through it all, whether in Irish or another competitive dance form, will no doubt laugh loudest.
The Humours of Bandon is wonderfully written and performed placing McAuliffe’s play firmly on the podium as a Fringe success.