Ragus the Show
A standing ovation forced an encore at Monday's opening of Ragus the Show at Vicar Street, and deservedly so. Seated against a background of sails, fish nets, floats, ropes and a lobster pot, suggesting the pre-occupations on Inishmore, where Ragus is now in its fourth year, the musicians performed sean nos traditional airs and numbers composed by fiddle player Maurice Lennon, such as his Island Memories.
Fergal O Murchu, producer, compere and squeeze-box player also has a fine voice, singing in both English and Irish and getting the audience to join in choruses of Green Grow the Rushes.
Gillian Norris danced the lead role in Lord of the Dance and the Flatley influence shows.
Swinging off ropes, using her arms, exuding sex, she epitomises the revolution which occurred when River dance burst on to our screens.
Donnacha Howard, a 22year-old with a great future and pupil of choreographer Michael Ryan, partnered her in Jimmy Shand's Whelans Jig, climaxing with a shoulderhigh lift.
With former Riverdancer Michael Donegan, they hammered out an exciting triangular relationship to the solo beat of bodhran player Brian Garvin, while the two men rivalled each other in displays of virtuosity to the brilliant uilleann-pipe playing of Gary Roche.
The four-woman troupe was technically excellent in jig, reel and hornpipe, but kept their arms rigidly to their sides in the accepted manner.
A bonus was the beautiful singing, with every word crystal clear, by Jim O'Leary, of a tragic ballad. He had been flown up for the night from the Inishmore Ragusa company.
Paul Costelloe's costumes for the principals were perfect, but the tops of the backing troupe were unflattering and the lighting made gold lurex look like black plastic sacking. The Gael Linn CD of the show is now available.
Ragus will be at Vicar Street Monday to Friday throughout July and August