Heartbeat of Home
A whirl of thunderous energy from the producers of ‘Riverdance’ that occasionally threatens to blow off course
‘Heartbeat of Home’: a multicultural street party. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Heartbeat of Home
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin
Welcome to a multicultural street party, a fiesta mundo, a global céilí: the salsa and the hornpipe, dancers swirling with a brace of hurleys , breakdancers in full flow, and Irish rhythms punctuating the irresistible Afro-Caribbean beat. So opens act two of Heartbeat of Home, the ambitious new multimedia spectacle of live world music and dance from the producers of Riverdance.
Here, the show seems to settle on dry land following a first act where, although it thunders through showstopping numbers on a pulsating and visually arresting emigrant dream voyage, the ship has blown off course. At times, it feels like world-class entertainment on a cruise ship that is unsure of its direction in the tempestuous waves of energy.
The same is true of the writing. Joseph O’Connor’s loose narrative and lyrical songs reflect a new global and Irish emigrant experience. Initially, they struggle to cut through the sheer electric pace of the production, but O’Connor’s more distinctive voice seems to prosper on this later, firmer ground.
The 29 soaring dancers encompass traditions from tango to double jig and flamenco to Cuban salsa, but even they seem to be more imaginatively challenged by the routines. Don’t Slip Jig, for example, deftly reimagines an iconic skyline photograph, and sees the technical magic of the production synch with the footwork mastery of the dancers.
If the dancers are athletic, graceful and exuberant, so too is the
two-sectioned band, with trumpet, sax and uilleann pipes, and fiddles, accordion and keyboards, a percussive battalion and Lucia Evans’s bountiful singing. It’s a case of bringing all the rhythms of life back home.
Until October 12