Sunday, September 26, 2010

Theatre: What the Folk!

As part of the Fringe Festival, the National Folk Theatre were in town to answer the question: "What is folk?" I certainly didn't know, but I enjoyed finding out over the course of the lunchtime performance, held in the Irish Landmark Trust on Eustace Street.

What the Folk! is just the sort of show I want from the Fringe Festival: enjoyable but also unusual. It's hardly a show at all, really, and more a friendly introduction to 'Folk'. Before the performance proper begins the audience are given a little slice of cake and a cup of tea, and led into a very nice comfy room. The performers sit around the room - there's no stage, no nice neat line dividing the folk performers from the rest of us.

And so begins the entertainment. They sing (in Irish and English, intermixed) and dance and tell the audience about folk - not just what it is, but the life they lead. It sounds as if folk is not just a job for them, but a way of life, and one they love. Personal stories and anecdotes abound, as well as an impressive listing of injuries. It's certainly the first Fringe show during which I've been taken by an actress to her bedroom to be told about the diaries she's kept for many years: What the Folk! must be one of the most honest, personal performances I've ever seen. (Either that or the performers are superb actors and should change careers immediately!)

This must be one of the nicest, friendliest events of the Fringe Festival, although it did run a bit late. The final show is later today, at 1 pm, but if you don't get to that (or can't get a ticket) then next time you're down near Tralee go visit the National Folk Theatre.

Rating: ****

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