A Little Slice Of The Emerald Isles

The National Dance Company of Ireland

Rhythm Of The Dance

Theatre Severn

15 July 2018


Straight from the off you know you are going to witness something rather special. One is not mistaken. This is a great, captivating, sometimes breath taking show; it brings the feel and the spirit of a mystical land far across the water. The land of Celts, of magic, history and stories, of sweet sounding music and the land of the dance. Wonderful.

Straight from the off with Newrange at Dawn a haunting Irish voice floated out above the low whistle with an atmospheric back drop of various encapsulating Irish landscape shots, projected onto the back cloth,  it was a song calling all dancers to come and weave their spells and they did.

With wonderful Traditional/Contemporary music delivered by Banjo, Bodhran, Two row Castagnari Melodeon, Whistles low and flutes and of course the chilling spine tingling uileaan pipes. So unique to Ireland. If the music was the spell the dancers were the magic.

The ladies were so gentle, so beautifully feminine, diaphanous almost, they were so silent on their feet and they used their arms in such a gentle way. The men almost brutish by contrast delighted us with synchronicity, talking feet and strong powerful moves that lift this form of dancing into a class of its own. Some dancing is so mesmerising it is impossible to look away. This is such a show.

Sadly delivering an Ireland that appears more in America and the North American continent than it does in Ireland the magic suffers non the worst for it. We know that that Ireland is gone and lost. Ireland is a cosmopolitan country now offering more than jigs and reels, however they do have a wonderful tradition, and it is that which this show is so successfully served by.

Sometimes it’s a case of if this is Ireland where is the gift shop? However in the pubs and in the festivals this music is being played and in schools and conservetoires all over Ireland this wonderful form of dancing is taught and most children are strongly encouraged to learn.

That doesn’t stop the show initially feeling a bit chintzy, one wondered was it in any way a genuine reflection of Irish culture? As one gets further engrossed into the show the answer presents itself, of course this is a fair reflection of Irish culture and by goodness it isn’t half contagious!  

Taking a journey through Ireland and exploring their narrative one becomes aware of the famine and the depopulation of Ireland as the Wild Geese, as they were known, escaped Ireland to America due to the potato famine. The sorrow from that reflects in the haunting sounds of the Uileaan pipes and the deep Low Whistle, so characteristic in Irish music.

But there is happiness too and parties and festivals are reflected. From Broom dancing to single clogs on a tin tray. Fascinating. One became aware that some of the steps being used can be seen in the dancing of the Dartmoor Step Dancers or the Romany culture which crops up everywhere.

England has a wonderful culture of dance and music but the only person that brought that to a big stage in latter years is Damien Barber with his sensational Locked In. It is a proudness of their culture that seems to mark Ireland out as a different place to be . A story so deeply woven into the fabric of Ireland it is an infectious sort of thing.  We see ourselves as so modern, so jet age, our culture seems not to fit our image. Maybe that’s an argument for another time but one is aware of the love and proudness the cast has got as they give us an illustrated guide right into the heart of their land. It is sensational.

This show is vibrant, the live music is as good if not better than you will have heard Irish music played, it is energetic and delightful. One is simply exhausted after just watching it, heaven knows how the cast will get on the coach, make a long journey to the next theatre and do it all again. They deserve medals. Wonderful entertainment.

This Is a Five Star Review

Owen J Lewis


Sofia Lewis Sofia Lewis
For many years Sofia wrote here under her male name Owen J. Lewis. She is now mostly writing under her own name of Sofia Lewis. Sofia, who worked on independent radio for over ten years, lives in Shrewsbury and writes plays. She has over 15 titles published and her plays are performed all over the world. She is especially popular in America. Her poetry is also often noted and she writes reams of it most weeks. Since graduating in theatre in 1997 Sofia has been an Actor, Filmmaker, and a Secondary School Teacher. Reviewing theatre is something she thoroughly enjoys and she loves to see great theatre. As a musician Sofia is known throughout the UK she is a folk singer, and is often seen or heard around her native county singing and having fun. Sofia has contributed to loveshrewsbury.com for over a decade and enjoys sharing her views on theatre. Sofia has one daughter and grew up in Church Stretton.

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