The Humours of Bandon at UNO Fest 2018. A review.

The Humours of Bandon at UNO Fest 2018. A review.

Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Fest, now in its twenty-first year, runs May 9-19, 2018 in Victoria BC.  It features eighteen shows, including two as part of the new Family Fest Series, and a spotlight on women’s indigenous voices with a guest indigenous curator, Yolanda Bonnell.

I’ll be featuring interviews, previews and reviews during the festival. Follow for all my coverage.

The Humours of Bandon Margaret McAuliffe

Annie (Margaret McAuliffe) is a driven seventeen-year-old, a compact bundle of nervous energy, fidgeting under the careful ministrations of her increasingly frustrated mother, as she prepares for yet another Saturday spent in a cavernous gym in search of the Holy Grail—first place at the All Ireland Irish Dancing Competitions.

For every moment on the podium—be it in dance, gymnastics, judo, figure skating—are the endless hours of practice and coaching, passion and uncertainty, camaraderie and rivalry that young participants willing endure in pursuit of their dreams.  McAuliffe distills this gruelling experience into a wry and observant performance, as contained and controlled as the dancer she portrays.

For every eventual Riverdancer, there is an Annie—with a devoted but largely clueless mother, supportive friend and harridan of a teacher. McAuliffe swiftly switches between characters with the most deceptive of gestures—a slight tip of the hip or well-placed moue.

Sketching dance moves with her feet, in almost constant movement throughout, McAuliffe regales the audience with explanations of the intricacies of competition—the predilections of certain judges, the precision required and the reasoning behind rules that appear arbitrary. Annie has given over what could be the carefree years of adolescence for strict adherence to a gruelling regime—all for love of an art-form that reminds her of the mathematics she also loves—and despite a mother who simply wants her to be happy.

As so often in life, overt zeal and relentless pursuit of a goal robs Annie of whatever enjoyment she once found.  Dance is a metaphor for life in this robust coming-of-age tale.  McAuliffe teases with short episodes of well-executed dance steps between longer dialogues before subverting the narrative arc well understood from countless stories of sports triumph to explode in a joyous display of subversive rebellion. The Humours of Bandon concluded to vigourous cheering from the audience as Annie emerged triumphant, her own person.

Stefanie Preissner is precise in her direction—there is an incredible sense of sustained power simmering below the surface throughout, before the powerful finale—with great skill in pulling out both the humour and the pathos of the story. Anyone who has ever pursued a dream and a seemingly unattainable goal will be able to relate to The Humours of Bandon.

“Hammer the floor like you mean it” becomes the new catch phrase for wholly committing in any situation.

(NB: in Irish dancing, the arms are held at the sides. The Humours of Bandon is a traditional Irish song.)

Direct from Dublin, The Humours of Bandon is a coming of age story, full of heart, humour and wisdom, for anyone who had a childhood passion that threatened to overwhelm their life. ‘Don’t be afraid of that floor, hammer it!’

Nobody knows where their 5-year-old will take that first, after-school activity. To the surprise of her mother, Annie takes it all the way to the top echelons of the Irish Dancing Championships. We meet Dubliner Annie on the eve of the biggest competition of her teenage life, her burning desire to win – shared only by her teacher as her mother watches on with bewilderment and pride. Will she win and if so, in what way?

The Humours of Bandon created and performed by Margaret McAuliffe
UNO Fest 2018
May 10th at 8:30pm and May 11th at 8:30pm
Intrepid Theatre Club #2-1609 Blanshard at Fisgard
Tickets $18
Duration: 55 minutes
Rating: 14+, Coarse language
Genre: Comedy
Country: Dublin, Ireland

Fishamble: The New Play Company
Created and performed by Margaret McAuliffe
Directed by Stefanie Preissner
Set Design by Eoin Winning
Script development by Gavin Kostick
Dramaturgical Assistance by Jo Halpin
Produced by Evan Scanlan

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ticket to attend The Humours of Bandon

About @lacouvee

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