Irish Celtic review: A cutesy celebration of my Ireland home
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Irish Celtic review: A cutesy celebration of my Ireland home

Irish Celtic
Capitol Theatre, August 7

★★★

Irish Celtic is the name of an imaginary pub in this dance show that presumably hopes to bring back memories and audiences from Riverdance.

Irish Celtic hopes to capture some of the atmosphere and excitement of Riverdance.

Irish Celtic hopes to capture some of the atmosphere and excitement of Riverdance.

Woven through music and dance numbers, the pub's history is told in a rambling monologue by a garrulous man, full of blarney, who constantly revs up the audience to applaud and answer his questions.

Many do, and that's great for them and the production. As one who resists this approach and the cute framework of overstated Irishness in which the piece is set, it wasn't much fun.

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But I was there for the dance, which is energetic and generally well done – with some of it terrific. The men, especially, perform that extraordinary footwork with such power and precision you can only be amazed.

Not only do their heels pound the stage in a crisp, ringing tone, but their feet cross back and forth at dazzling speed as they jump on the spot. It's a case of seeing and hearing is believing.

There is one aspect of Irish dance that works against it on a world stage. To give this show credit, it includes a joke against itself, which I won't spoil by repeating.

But it echoes the story that the Irish dancing technique was outlined in two books. The first covered legs and feet and the second – focusing on arms and hands – has never been found.

And it is true that there's little going on with the upper body. Arms are more likely than not to be held neatly by the performers' sides. Some choreography for the girls in Irish Celtic attempts to correct the balance, but it is not very interesting.

Yet again, this was a show without a program or any background information supplied. This lack of information undervalues the performers, the audience and the artform.

Just a photocopied sheet will do, it wouldn't cost the producers much.

Were the performers Australian? I asked the stranger sitting alongside me. Who would know? They could have hopped on a bus from Bondi Junction.

In fact, a check online reveals they have come from Ireland – and they will be performing in Sydney until Sunday.

Until August 12