The Arts Desk: “The most fun I had all month”

By VERONICA LEE on The Arts Desk on 26/08/2014 | Full Article


This show was being lauded across Edinburgh during the Fringe, but I was too busy to see it before the final weekend. I could kick myself as it was the most fun I had all month.

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A ceilidh, common across the Celtic world and its diaspora, is an evening of music, poetry and dance – and here the age-old form of gathering is given a wonderfully modern makeover as a piece of immersive theatre. (Another production is also currently in London, along with a family version – Ready, Steady, Ceilidh: I urge you to see either.)

This Is Ceilidh uses the framework of Romeo and Juliet, and the warring houses here are two feuding clans; the audience are given red or yellow colours to participate as clan members, as they witness a story involving forbidden love and family strife. What follows is part theatre, part poetry (including Robert Burns) and part musical gig (with a cracking band and pipers), led by storytellers Lesley Harcourt and Ewan Donald (pictured above in red by Richard Davenport) – and some riotous mass dancing of Strip the Willow and other old favourites that is not for the faint-hearted, nor indeed the unfit.

Owen Lewis directs with a real feel for the subject, and he welds the show’s many elements into a superb performance.