Milesians - The Coming of the Gaels, review
Milesians - The Coming of the Gaels. April 16-22, Bishop Ullathorne School Grounds, Leasowes Avenue, Green Lane, Coventry.
By Barbara Goulden
I have to say this outdoor production is more of an epic ballet than an epic battle. But don't run away with the idea that it's not also full of sound and fury incorporating spectacular special effects and breathtaking acrobatics.
What was it about? Well, the myths and legends of Ireland as they are explained to a child....who then runs off to be swung through the air by an amazing aerialist who I think may be the same one who later contorts herself into a sinuous poisonous snake.
Having said that it's hard to be totally sure who's who in this jaw-dropping if sometimes bewildering tribute to the one in ten Coventry people who can still trace their roots directly back to Ireland.
Among them is Imagineer director Kathi Leahy who arranges for dramatic music and dry ice to flood the stage as you are dazzled by acrobats literally walking the walls at one end while trapeze stars from Circolumbia are performing what can only be described as aerial poetry at the other.
One minute people are poignantly staggering across the stage in the final stages of famine. Soon afterwards an impressive Viking-style ship full of war-like Gaels has emerged unfurling its flags.
And there is finally some fighting; the clash of pikes and shields while three soaring sirens try to persuade the victors to name the land after one of them...the winner, of course, is Eire.
It's a highly unusual and entertaining evening....but wrap up warmly before you set out to join this epic adventure. Some chairs are available but most people stand.
Irish tradition is still strong in Coventry as evidenced by the many dance schools still operating here. On each night of Milesians there is not only a post show demonstration but a pre-show 8pm warm-up featuring talented young locals happily demonstrating the amazing high-kicking, straight-arm style still taught in the city.
On Saturday (April 16) this was provided by lively members of the Celtica Academy; on April 17 it will Coventry Comhaltas; April 20, Elite Dance Academy; April 21, Matthews Dance Academy and on April 22, McHale Dance
* For £5 tickets visit www.coventry2021.co.uk, or call into the City of Culture shop in Hertford Street. Some tickets should also be available on the door each night.
Pictures by Andrew Moore