Friday, July 1, 2011

Riverdance

Nina and I attended Riverdance at the Gaiety last night. We had a mild scuffle over who got to review it so we're premiering a new style of blogging, for us at least.

Claire: Overall, I thought it was fantastic. I'd never seen it before and expecting it to be good but I was fairly blown away at how good it was.
Nina: I enjoyed it, but I think some of the effect was a little lost on me by the fact it wasn't my first time - I already expected it to be good. It's great to get the perspective of someone who hasn't seen it before.
Claire: So a repeat performance takes something away from the experience? Personally, I love watching things again, particularly musicals, so I can anticipate something good, or compare with the last time I saw it.
Nina: There is that, but I'm not sure a second time can ever compete with the very first WOW experience, when you're completely blown away by something new.
Claire: Quite possibly.

Claire: Despite having seen excerpts on TV, I was not expecting the whole voice-over thing and the basic story of Ireland & emigration that featured in it.
Nina: What did you think of the voice-over?
Claire: I thought it was a little touristy, if I'm completely honest. Also, I kept thinking, "I know that voice from some ad!"
Nina: I too felt it was a little more artificial than the rest of the performance. And I was also wondering if there mightn't be a scope for a "Riverdance 2.0" at some point - by all means tell the story of Ireland, but don't stop at the emigration, there is much else to tell, too. I was pleased, though, that the story didn't dwell too much on the famine, which I feel is by now overdone in the "Irish story".
Claire: Yes, in fact, they kind of swoosh right by it, which is a relief. This show is a celebration of Ireland, not real history.

Claire: Let's talk about the non-Irish dancing in it. The flamenco!
Nina: Oh, I loved the flamenco. I thought the dancer was wonderful.
Claire: Her name is Rocio Montoya and she is from Spain. Do you think she might have a brother called Inigo?!
Nina: Oh...oh...I fear this.
Claire: She was amazing. I didn't know how they would work it in but having the 4 male Irish dancers come in really worked.
Nina: I loved that she was being an embodiment of the sun and fire.
Claire: I also liked the way the rhythm of her feet echoed the main rhythm of Riverdance itself at times.
Nina: Very much so. I thought the contrast between her role and the chief female Irish dancer's role (Maria Buffini) was interesting. Very sultry/confident/seductive versus almost coy/timid/innocent.

Claire: What about those tap guys?
They first appear in the second act. One of them sings too - have to say I found his song quite dull, though technically excellent.
Nina: It was a very musical-y song
Claire: I loved that dance off between them and the lead Irish dancer, who is Padraic Moyles in this Riverdance company (of which there are 3 at the moment).
Nina: They had definitely gone for the dark and charismatic type with him! But yeah, it was the "encounter between the Irish and America" dance I still remembered from seeing the show all those years ago. And I still really enjoyed it.
Claire: People seemed very familiar with Padraic, though I'd never seen him before.
Nina: I hadn't either. I assumed they were just cat calling because they thought he was hot!

Claire: I really liked the Thunderstorm sequence (danced by him & 5 other male dancers, all dressed in black).
Nina: Yes, you were talking about that at the theatre... Let's hear your thoughts about it.
Claire: It reminded me of the haka, that the All Blacks perform before each rugby game.
I kept thinking "any minute now, they'll slap their thighs and then get into a scrum".
Nina: There was a lot of manly roaring.
Claire: And it directly contrasted with the very feminine Firedance (the first flamenco performance).
Nina: But the passion in both of those worked together very well
Claire: Absolutely.

Claire: I was so surprised to see Riverdance done at the end of the first act.
It was every bit as impressive as I expected but I thought it would be the finale of the show, rather than just the first half. I felt a tiny bit let down that I wasn't going to hear it again.
Nina: It left the second half feeling like an appendix, almost, didn't it.
Claire: It reminded me of a time I saw a concert of Bond music in the Helix and they played the Bond theme at the start and then didn't do it again at the end! Except they do a reprise of Riverdance at the end of the show, thankfully. And it was fantastic. To be so close, watching those feet exactly in time with each other, and their excitement in dancing it.
Nina: As I said last night, it was great to be able to see the movements so clearly, and their facial expressions.

Claire: Flatley & Butler's choreography is so evident, even though neither of them is in the show anymore.
Nina: Maybe that's why they're sticking to the Gaiety, which is a reasonably small venue, although places like the Grand Canal Theatre are now available.
Claire: I did wonder whether they might move when GCT opened.
Nina: From the sound of things they consider the Gaiety their home by now.

Claire: As you were saying, Flatley's talent as a choreographer is just awesome... Ok, so what about that barn dancing scene?
Nina: I wasn't too mad about it, although the abundance of colours was lovely.
Claire: It owed a lot to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I thought, despite being different dancing traditions. For me it brought a nice element of céilí to the whole piece, such an integral part of Irish dance.
Nina: The whole show is definitely something I'd bring my foreign visitors to, and I'd encourage even natives to go see it. But I was left wondering where new Riverdances and the like are. I feel like there's a massive pool of Irish creative talent out there and things like Riverdance showcase it very well. Is it just that people haven't been interested in homemade spectacles in the past 20 years?
Claire: I'm not sure we had anything before it that could even be compared.
Nina: It's well before my time, but the question stands even more then.
Claire: As a nation, we're much more into straight theatre. We don't have a great variety performance tradition, like they do in the UK.
Nina: And the Gate and the Abbey and their ilk are, of course, going reasonably strong. I remember arriving and being impressed by how often their programmes changed, and what their strength was like.

Claire: Definitely. We haven't really discussed the music & the singing. So let's finish up with that. The fiddle player, Niamh Fahy, was the star for me.
Nina: I myself was really impressed with the main singer's voice.
Claire: Yes, and unfortunately, their website and programme are not obviously giving me her name.
There was something funny about the rest of the singers though. I felt like the dancers were mouthing the words to a backing track at certain times.
Nina: Yes, we were wondering about that after the performance. It wasn't obvious that it wasn't being done, put it that way.
Claire:She was definitely singing, as was the tap dance guy, Michael E. Wood.
At times I felt there must have been a backing music track because it was hard to believe so much music could be provided by a 4 piece band, even if they were playing multiple instruments and had the largest percussion section I've seen in years.
Nina: I felt that way too. I was quite surprised to see the live band when the back curtain was raised for the first time.

Nina: What it is your one sentence summary of the whole show, then?
Claire: Unbelievably good: I'd see it again on its current run. And yours?
Nina: A lovely Irish fairytale to take your mind off any current economic gloom.

Riverdance runs at The Gaiety until 28th August. Tickets cost between €25 - €55 per person.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyable post. Maybe just a tad long.

    ReplyDelete