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Irish mythology the perfect basis for panto fare

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From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Irish mythology the perfect basis for panto fare Irish mythology the perfect basis for panto fare

Fionn agus Clochán an Aifir

Fíbín sa Taibhdhearc

LEIRMHEAS: BERNIE NÍ FHLATHARTA

The myths and fairytales of Ireland are as good a base for a pantomime as any, and Fíbín at An Taibhdhearc have revisited Fionn and the Fianna for this year’s Christmas offering.

Fionn agus Clochán an Aifir (Fionn and the Giant’s Causeway) is beautifully told, on an impressive set, by a solid cast and the most wonderful band of musicians.

The musicians, rather than being hidden in a pit below the stage, are at the side of the auditorium from where they are visible to the audience. From there, they engage in occasional banter with the cast in a very amusing way.

Fionn Mac Cumhaill, played by Myles Feerick, is a vain, dim, but loveable gentle giant with everything going for him. The only thing is, he’s lonely for friends of his own stature.

Then he hears about another giant, Benandonnar, (Micheál Ó Fearraigh) who lives across the sea in Scotland and is thrilled to learn the Scotsman is coming to visit. Fionn doesn’t realise Benandonnar, a loud bully who scares those around him, wants to be the only giant around and has murder on his mind.

Fionn’s wife Saidbh, (Molly Mew) comes up with a cunning plan. She persuades Fionn to play dumb (not too hard for him) and pretend he’s a baby to fool Benandonnar. The would-be killer concludes that if this is Fionn’s baby, the man himself must be utterly enormous, too big to challenge.

The hour-and-a-half-long performance gives us entertainment, music, dance and song, and a few Irish puns (see if you can spot them), as well as touching lightly on contemporary issues, such as bullying and diversity.

The first to mention the diversity word is the villain, Morrígan (Anne Marie Horan), who tells us nobody understands her because she’s different. Her black, raven-like costume is wonderful.

Fibín has got it right once again. Pantos, traditionally, can be far too long, especially for young children, but this length, with no intermission, means it’s over by 9pm. Time flies, thanks to the pace of how the story unfolds. Written and directed by Séamus McHugh, it not only provides seasonal entertainment but rekindles a Celtic legend in a very palatable way.

Séamus explains the bullying and other issues were raised organically during rehearsals and worked into the script. Smart.

The children on stage are wonderful, full of energy and obviously enjoying every minute of their experience.

Fionn agus Clochán an Aifir runs on weekends until Saturday, December 23. It’s at 7.30pm on Fridays and at 2.30pm on both Saturdays and this Sunday.

Pictured: Grainne Uí Fhlatharta, Indreabhán with Cian and Tom Fhlatharta, at the opening on Friday night of Fionn Agus Clochán An Aifir, the Christmas Pantomime by Fíbín in An Taibhdhearc. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy.

 

 

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