IMPRESSIONS OF: Ponydance in "Anybody Waitin'?"
Performers: Leonie McDonagh, Paula O’Reilly, Duane Watters, Neil O’Brien
Venue: Abrons Arts Center
October 8, 2015
Abrons Arts Center’s Travelogues, co-presented by Irish Arts Center, curated by Laurie Uprichard, brings us a lovable gem, Ponydance. Everything this young Irish cast -- most spectacularly Paula O’Reilly -- does rings a bell, brings a smile, or a belly-laugh. More stand-up comedy than theatre, Anybody Waitin'? positions every dance as silly fun or an opportunity to accentuate what the performers have in common with the audience. Their virtuosity shines in their timing, the tilt of their heads and rubber faces, and the pace of their gags.
This short romp begins with Leonie McDonagh telling us that the reason we are all here is to get Paula (who is late…always late) a man. McDonagh, a lanky blonde, collects the names of the men in the audience, perusing them with the scrutiny of a matchmaker. As Paula fails to show the mood dips. O’Reilly, round and short, finally busts in from behind the audience grabbing selfies and our attention with her charismatic, crazy spunk. With Paula’s arrival, the show soars to giggly, campy heaven.
McDonagh and O'Reilly dance until their high kicks buckle them over. They change costumes: O’Reilly in a booth that magically appears and disappears; McDonagh, on top of men in the audience in the guise of an awkward chest/lap dance. Much to the girls’ dismay, the cast doubles with the arrival of Duane Watters and Neil O’Brien. After a cheesy, finger pointing, pelvis thrusting routine, the scene slips to slapstick as O’Reilly jumps at the three to be caught, only to fall at their feet. The setting becomes momentarily violent as she gets her forehead bumped into the brick wall.
But, back to the agenda, getting Paula a man. A man from the audience is chosen and asked what he can say about Paula. “Stunning,” he exclaims. O’Reilly runs off-stage wailing, “He thinks I’m FAT!” After a less amusing once-over by the remaining three, O’Reilly returns to jump into the arms of her chosen one, and away they exit to the land of happy endings.
Commissioned in 2010 by Absolut Dublin Fringe, the 2015 New York City performances of Anybody Waitin'? are sponsored, in part, by Northern Ireland Bureau, the British Council Northern Ireland, and Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
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