Irish dancing, hardly a subject that normally strikes you with excitement and laughter right? Well with Máire Clerkin at the helm that’s is exactly what you get.
The auditorium is dark, lit like an old Irish pub, the audience stream in, 90% irish born or bred…it’s easy as an English man to feel a little out of place in this environment, however once Clerkin takes to the stage, this all changes. She bounds on with so much gusto and energy bringing with her some particularly excellent dancing skills and the room becomes one.
After a quick solo the story begins with a classic school style PowerPoint and pictures from Máire’s early years, it’s difficult not to become attached to her kind and warming demeanour straight away. The play then continues to take us through her life in Irish dancing, the ups and downs, from a trophy winning dance to throwing up at a Fesh…things we have all been through right? Well Clerkin definitely makes us feel that way.
Unlike with some one handers, we never felt lost, she constantly had us in her hand as she expertly pulled us through an array of characters and accents all clearly distinguished and immediately recognisable, her array of perfectly pitched Irish accents where a feat themselves. She managed to create characters that we all know and love and never once felt stereotyped. Granted there were a few moments where she lost her way for a split second, which is to be expected on opening night, but she always pulled through effortlessly.
Dan O’Connor has done a lovely job of directing the piece, one handers can be notoriously difficult yet he manages to makes Clerkin and all her characters feel perfectly natural whilst making full use of the stage so we never felt bored or lacking in energy.
What I loved so much about this piece is its honesty, it knows what it is…and it loves that. It’s honest, it’s humourous, but more than that it’s not trying to tell us anything. It isn’t trying to write the worlds wrongs or highlight the flaws in our politics…it’s a woman on stage pouring her heart out to us about the world of Irish dancing, very refreshing.
Whether you are a fully trained Irish dancer or have a bad case of the dad dance, this is for you. Whether you are from the Emerald Isle yourself or a south London born and bred, this is for you. Whether your idea of a good pint is a Guinness or a Carling….The Bad Arm is for you. Clerk in manages to make everyone in that room feel welcome, entertained and amazingly, for the hour your in there, Irish, no matter where your from. A great night of theatre and I look forward to see what she does in future.