The Burlington Hotel in Ballsbridge is currently hosting a show called Ragús. Ragús mixes together Trad music, singing, and an impressive dance routine combining elements of traditional Irish dancing with other forms of dance.
The evening starts with a three course meal, served before the show begins. The starter and main courses are good but plain; the dessert though is excellent. The post-dessert Irish Coffees are a nice touch, and the timing of the meal is just right - enough time to chat, relax, and enjoy the meal, but not so much as to cause any impatience waiting for the show to commence.
Ragús combines three forms of performance: instrumental music, singing, and dance. The instrumental music is mostly based on traditional Irish music - "trad" - but with a few non-traditional elements as well, providing some variety. On the night I saw the show, the lead musician made a valiant attempt to get the crowd into the trad spirit, with partial success - for audience members unused to the rhythm of trad, clapping along and shouting yeeeowh! at the right moments is in fact more difficult than you might imagine.
The more striking part of the performance though isn't the music, it's the dancing. Mostly this is based on traditional Irish dancing but there are other styles mixed in with it, and at times it resembles Flamenco. This is beautiful, powerful, high-tempo dance - I loved it.
The only part of the performance I found disappointing was the singing. The female vocalist was technically perfect and the inclusion of songs adds variety to the pace of the overall Ragús performance, but the songs were just a bit too bland for my liking.
So, is Ragús good, and is it good value? The first question is easy - yes, it's good.
As for value, at €55 this isn't cheap, but against that the price includes dinner. Whether the show is good value partly depends on what you're looking for; it's a relaxing evening rather than an exciting one. I suspect that for many Irish people at the moment, the price might just be too high, even if they'd enjoy the show. Although it won't be quite the same experience, it's also possible to buy show-only tickets (without dinner) for €29 - probably a better value option.
If you're planning to visit Dublin for the weekend then you might want to consider the Burlington's special offer of €99 (per person sharing) for a night's accommodation, dinner, the show and a full Irish breakfast. I quite like the Burlington, and its location in Ballsbridge is pleasant and nearby to the city centre, so I think that's a good deal.
There's one group of visitors to the city I'd wholeheartedly encourage to see the show: anyone holidaying briefly in Ireland and aiming to get a quick taste of Irish culture. Ragús offers an enjoyable, convenient way to experience authentic Irish music, dancing and food. If the food is slightly plain, that's because that's exactly how Irish cuisine usually is.
Ragús continues in the Burlington until 3rd October 2011. Doors open at 6:30 pm, with dinner being served at 7 pm. The show starts at 8 pm and runs for about two hours including an interval. The show is on every night except Tuesdays.