Dancing with my self: Step this way for this week’s theatre highlights
On the boards: Abbey stages 1936 play by the oft-neglected Teresa Deevy, and Stefanie Preissner directs Margaret McAuliffe’s one-woman show about an Irish dancer
Caoilfhionn Dunne as Katie Roche, a Waterford woman of some importance
Abbey Theatre, Dublin Until September 23rd 7.30pm (Sat mat 2pm) €13-€45
In 1930s Waterford, Katie Roche is considered to be a woman of no importance – or so she is told. But her parentage and her status are really an open question – one to which she has given much thought. Encouraged by the words of a spiritual wanderer, she imagines herself to be someone great in a culture that asks her to be good instead. In truth, she has imagined herself many things: a trainee saint, a young man’s lover – and now, all of a sudden, an older man’s wife. “She had this earth’s changeful beauty,” someone says of her departed mother, and the same goes for Katie, a 19-year-old woman with no fixed idea of herself.
Unfairly neglected by the Abbey, playwright Teresa Deevy has become a symbol of marginalised female playwrights during the reactionary slide of the mid-century Abbey. In a slimmed-down version, trailblazing visual director Caroline Byrne and, as Katie, the magnetic Caoilfhionn Dunne get to pose Deevy’s searching question once more: Who does Katie think she is?
The Humours of Bandon
Roscommon Arts Centre Sunday, September 6th 8pm €16/€14 roscommonartscentre.ie
Fresh from its recent success at the Edinburgh Fringe, Margaret McAuliffe’s excellent one-woman show returns home, allowing its teenage Irish dancer to compete in a championship and to establish her own place in the world. Wryly alert to the culture and codes of the Irish dancing circuit, McAuliffe plays a gallery of supporting characters, while evoking the routines, rituals, rivalries and reels. Directed by Stefanie Preissner, and presented by Fishamble, the play is both tightly detailed and appropriately light of foot, ironic enough about the pressures on a young girl’s toes – and her childhood – without ever being insincere. And to see McAuliffe merge the more flippant fixations of a 1990s childhood in Dublin with the stricter expectations of cultural heritage at the show’s conclusion, makes it a hugely winning performance – whatever the feis judges decide.