Humour and trad combine for hit

Thu, Dec 3, 1998, 00:00

With a backing band who can out pogue the Pogues, the embodiment of traditional Irish male-dom, Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly, came bounding onto the stage to the strains of a Riverdance type tune. Setting the tone for the evening immediately, Ding Dong's first song managed to include the words drink and vomit more than a few times. The pace was considerably toned down when he revealed his specially constructed fireside - which he uses as a prop for his seanachai stories. Introducing an element of pathos, Ding Dong wonderfully conjured up a by-gone Ireland - "one without a Habitat or a Boots". The band, in keeping with the mood, played a slow lament.

Stepping somewhat out of role, Ding Dong then offered up his idiosyncratic interpretations of the Country and Western ballad and later on, to emphasise a point he was making about the romantic nature of the Irish male, he did an inspired cover version of Kiss - a song first made famous by the artist formerly known as Prince. Jumping around the tables of the venue and waggling his haggard body, Ding Dong was a very peculiar vision indeed.

Back in rebel ballad mode, things deteriorated slightly when a fight broke out on stage, first between the fiddle player and the bodhran player and then among the whole band. To defuse the potentially hazardous situation, Ding Dong and his side-kick, Scribbler O'Donoghue, staged a projectile vomit contest, which an aghast audience came to enjoy - eventually.

Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly is played by Paul Woodful, a Dublin performer who in the past has also brought us The Joshua Trio, The Glam Tarts and Abbaesque. This show is very well observed and expertly performed. With its combination of very proficiently played trad music and humour, it is proving to be one of the hits of the year.