Step (Dance) This way for Ireland the Show

Ireland, The Show

Theatre Severn

10th March 2022

There are two things I wish to say to you initially before I come on to tonight’s performance. Firstly, I am delighted to be back bringing my comments and views to loveshrewsbury.com. I have missed writing for you.

Secondly, hats off to Theatre Severn for their bold and unified statement. As I approached the Theatre from Welsh Bridge it was wonderful to see in lighting at the top of the theatre, the yellow and blue of our poor beleaguered Ukrainian friends. At the fear of putting words in other people’s mouths just this once, I shall do it. I believe we all stand together as one and wish we could do more. Theatre Severn lights shine for all of us in these awful times. Now for the show.

Well what a show, a fun, colourful and exciting show. Celtic Storm the band played rock solid, and the singers too performed in top drawer mode. Accompanied by three tremendous Irish dancers Celtic Fusion; this was the show to cheer us all. Some of the ideas worked brilliantly, some not so but more of that later.

Blasting their way through what felt like the entire back catalogue of Ireland’s songs and ballads. Plus delighting us with their dancing, this show played to an audience that wanted entertaining and entertained they were.

The band’s back line comprised electric and acoustic guitars, really good bass, essential in Irish music on this grand and heightened scale, drums, keys, synths. One also had one of the singers who played a mean fiddle. Together they were excellently rehearsed and mighty powerful.

It is amazing how many of these songs have worked their way into British psyche and all put there by one tiny country that has inspired generations all over the globe. The songs were warm, familiar and beautifully sung. One might have been tempted to include the last and best verse of the song Carrickfergus (a sad omission) and one might be inclined to ask the band to get rid of the key changes in the songs. A couple might have been nice, but one song changed key twice on top of the one they started in. One might see less keys on a prison warder’s chain!

The Irish dancers were enthralling as they floated like feathers managing the most complex footwork of any style of step dancing, from Dartmoor to Lancashire to Buzby Berkely one would be hard pushed to watch feet work as these did. These girls were wonderful. One is sure their fearful dance teachers would be furious with such a liberal use of arm movement. Of course, the salient point of step dancing is what the feet are doing. It was believed in Ireland, when the Irish would be asked to dance for the Lord of the manor or some other great gentrified bunch of nobility, the girls were made to be very formal, clinical almost. That prevented them from using arm gestures at all.  When they were at home the crack would be very different as arms, legs, hands and feet were all used together as the fun begins. There was no fun to be had in dancing for the British Nobility. Michael Flatley started it and these girls have continued it, that is, using arms. To this humble reviewer Irish dancing looks all the better for it.

The singers were great fun, lively, irreverent and funny. They reached out to their audience immediately creating a great relationship between themselves and the audience. It works and people relaxed and started to enjoy this amazing slice of Irish Culture.

One niggle that one feels inclined to include was the overuse of hand clapping. Audiences do not want to be told to clap to every song like inane seals. However, the order came in almost every song, “Hands in the Air, Let me see them.” and words to the like. There will be people going home with hands looking like tenderised steak if the owner of them had followed every vacuous order that clapping was essential. It never does to ask an audience to clap along from the top of a song, they get bored and lose focus. The clapping begins when the music enters the soul and not before. To keep demanding it made one feel they may be worried we’ve gone home or something. A little less use of that order would go a long way to sorting out that issue.

So, in summary one would say this is a well-conceived, well arranged and beautifully performed show. I would watch it all again, with a little less clapping though!!

This is a Four-Star Review.

Owen J. Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Three times Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. See more on www.ojlwritingservices.co.uk.

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