Tonight was my first experience of any of Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance” shows, and I had no idea whatsoever what to expect from this latest one, “Dangerous Games”.
What is “Lord of the Dance” then? Well the answer to that is simple…spectacle and show based on the rhythms and music in Irish dance and Celtic as the source material culture, but re-imagined and re-worked for a global audience. In this show, Michael Flatley has taken some of the finest Irish dancers in the world and given them an age old story of good versus evil to tell in dance. Although these dancers are amongst the best in their profession and the “Irish Dance” elements are outstanding, there is a fusion here of many forms of dance, and with incredible choreography it all works on-stage.
The very nature of a touring global phenomenon means that Michael himself as the “Lord of the Dance” cannot be everywhere at once. Michael himself is down in the London shows at the moment saying his final dance farewells to his audiences, but he has given us some amazing new “Lords of the Dance” to carry on his work.
In this tale, the Lord of the Dance must do life or death battle with the Dark Lord and his forces of evil as they try to take over the world. He must also somehow keep his true love Saoirse as he battles the wiles of dark forces seductress and goddess of death Morrighan.
On stage tonight as “Lord of the Dance “ was Cathal Keaney. Not only does Cathal have the incredible talent that you need to reach this level of dance, but he also has that on-stage swagger needed to pull this role off, and the ability to connect almost immediately with an audience. The role of “Dark Lord” and all round baddie was performed by the equally impressive Zoltan Papp.
Good and bad female parts of Saoirse and Morrighan Goddsss of Death are danced beautifully tonight by Erin Kate McIlravey and Andrea Kren. Together, their carefully choreographed routines make an interesting counterpoint to each others characters.
Story-line voals are by Rachel O connor as Erin the Goddess.
Connecting the whole story line from start to finish is Jess Judge as Little Spirit. Outstanding fiddle playing is also provided by Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Eimear Reilly.
Simply outstanding dance from all parties both good and evil are on stage tonight.
“Lord of The Dance” is a huge show production with incredibly high standards at every level. Nothing whatsoever is left to chance here, everything is choreographed and timed to the last second...not even a spotlight out of time.
Everything on stage is set against an incredible background of fantasy CGI images. Other than a simple stage and stairs, there are no sets here, everything is virtual and it works amazingly well. The investment in the technology must be considerable and the team required to keep all of this technology running seamlessly must do amazing behind the scenes work. The on-stage visuals are amazing, but at times can detract slightly from the amazing work of the dancers.
Some state of the art technology does allow for some real surprises on stage and I am saying no more about that or there will be no surprises for you.
The debate from “tall and straight” purists of Irish dance still rumbles on after all these years on “Lord of the Dance”, but one thing is certain, and that is that over the years, Michael Flatley has taken Irish Dance to a global audience and opened its doors to a new generation of dancers.
This latest incarnation of “Lord of the Dance” has a heavy science fiction/science fantasy element to it in parts, and that may seem an odd mixture for a few people, but it works very well. Actually, judging from the response from an absolutely packed Playhouse Theatre tonight from an audience covering a huge age range, it worked very very well. Michael Flatley has once more taken his beloved dance and music in another direction to amaze audiences across the globe with again.
Review by Tom King