Helen O’Brien: Bronagh’s Big Weekend

Friday, 5 August, 2011

Irish Eyes, Smiling at the Sheephaven Bay

Helen O'Brien is Bronagh

Bronagh is 13. It’s 1987 and everything is about to happen. This is a really charming and at times poignant one woman show from a ‘Funny Women’ finalist.

Bronagh has years since (tearfully) given up ballroom dancing in favour of the traditional Irish stuff (Riverdance and all that) and the rhythms of that music have penetrated her every waking hour. The setting is Oldham and Bronagh (even her name seems awkward to her) is on the cusp of many things. There is the increasing lure of 14 year old Kieran, her bridesmaid dress for her cousin’s wedding, not to mention the mysteries of tampons and Southern Comfort and how to deal with the aftermath of both when there is a ‘Feis’ (an Irish dancing competition – pronounce it ‘fesh’) to be dealt with too.

Bronagh’s recounting of the wedding, which for Bronagh starts with a sick page boy and ends with an uncomfortable snog, is very funny, and will add to the popular mythology of Irish weddings, where hopeless optimism mixes with large quantities of stout and lager and – in this particular case – the new husband has a chair smashed over his head by the bride’s father, roared on by a baying chorus of four-square bridesmaids.

I’ve probably revealed too much about the plot already, but if you have any Irish ancestry, you’ll enjoy this glimpse into one family’s chequered past. And if you don’t, then you’ll have a good laugh and learn a lot about Irish dancing.

Writer/performer: Helen O’Brien

Reviewed Thursday 4 August 2011

© Michael Spring


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