Swing – The Peacock @ The Abbey Theatre – Review by Frances Winston
Mon 26 – Sat 31 May @ 8pm nightly – €22, €18 conc / €17 Early Bird
Post Show Talk: Wed 28 May
May decides to take swing dance classes to fill the time until her boyfriend returns home having taken a three month work contract in Peru. There she meets Joe who is reassessing his life following redundancy and the breakdown of his marriage. Together the two of them try to figure out the dance steps while analysing their life choices. This simple premise was the winner of the Bewley’s Little Gem Award at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2013 having been part of the ‘Show in a Bag’ presentations that year and in transferring to the larger space of the Peacock Stage from its original home in Bewley’s Café Theatre, it loses none of its charm.
With just two actors, a couple of chairs and some background music it manages to convey the energy of a dance class and all the characters that pass through it, as well as May and Joe’s burgeoning friendship. Everything from the cocky chancer to the homesick immigrant is featured here and anyone who has ever taken up an evening class to learn a new skill will definitely recognise some of the occupants of this world.
Obviously with only two actors playing all the roles some of them are stronger than others but on the whole they do a great job of morphing into various people in the class before switching back to May and Joe. The audience really feel like part of the class and are part of the show rather than just random spectators.
The script allows you to become fully engaged with all the characters and even those who make only a fleeting appearance are well rounded and leave you curious about what happens to them afterwards. Meanwhile you find yourself rooting for May and Joe as both fumble around each other while trying to navigate the minefield of their lives. Taking in a whole term of the dance classes their characters and stories really evolve and grow as does their dance prowess.
It is because of the dance class setting that this is part of this year’s Dublin Dance Festival, however far from being a niche dance show this is a simple character driven story that everyone can enjoy. Very much set in the real world of recession and relationships it doesn’t have any airs and graces and has some hugely humorous moments alongside great pathos. A lovely play that has a broad appeal this will leave you tapping your toes after it tugs at your heart strings.