“Dancing kills. Especially at the Irish Opens.”

Annie. A young and competitive Irish dancer with her eyes glued on the 1st place podium. A small story filled with big personalities, The Humours of Bandon charts the rollercoaster ride of wins and losses in the cutthroat world of Irish dancing with bundles of heart and humour.

Writer and sole performer Margaret McAuliffe effortlessly builds the story world with a host of amusing characters from her severe dance teacher and her oblivious mother to her unshakeable rival Rita Noonan. It was the little details that brought this production to life in a city where the thunder of Irish dancing is rarely seen or heard; the regular ritual of winding ‘bendies’ into Annie’s hair, the fog of hairspray, the mannerisms of each character McAuliffe subtly injected to differentiate one from the other.

The Humours of Bandon played out almost like a dance lesson itself, with McAuliffe explaining steps and the structure of Irish dancing competitions as the story unfolded. Admittedly, from the offset it was difficult not to wonder when McAuliffe was going to showcase her skills as a dancer (skills that she honed over 18 years, no less), and she dangled that treat like a carrot throughout the entire play, making the final scenes where she lets go of competition pressure and loses herself in the dance all the more uplifting and satisfying.

McAuliffe is an undeniably skilled writer and performer, building tension and pulling off a great blend of emotional drama and comedy in a genuinely touching story about self-belief, growing into your ghillies and love for dance. Although the world is undeniably a niche one, The Humours of Bandon is a relatable story for anyone who has had the fire of a childhood passion slowly put out over the journey to adulthood.

Lois Zoppi