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  •  REVIEW: PONYDANCE: ANYBODY WAITIN?

    finding a man for Paula in ponydance: Anybody Waitin?
    Photo by Amanda Gentile
    finding a man for Paula

    Sparkle and Skillz

    ponydance bring Anybody Waitin'? to Abrons from Belfast

    By QUINN BATSON
    Offoffoff.com

    ponydance gets most of the audience to their happydance place, in Anybody Waitin'?, a silly romp that reels us in after making us squirm.

      
    PONYDANCE: ANYBODY WAITIN?
    Choreography by: ponydance.
    Dancers: Leonie McDonagh, Neil O'Brien, Paula O'Reilly, Duane Watters.
     SCHEDULE
    Irish Arts Center/Abrons Arts Center
    October 7-10, 2015

    The small upstairs theater at Abrons Arts Center is just the right size for Leonie McDonagh to work the audience over before her cohorts arrive, "late" or unexpectedly. Unexpected is the rule for most of the show, from sparkly sweatsuits to American flag underwear to odd tasks for the audience. Even the dancing, which verges on or plows right through slapstick, is unexpectedly good when the four performers get in synch for '80s-era groupdance. They pretend to be dancing disasters, but dey got skillz.

    No one is safe in the equal-opportunity 'Wuts yer name? Here, do this. Oops, I need your lap.' playground, er, theater. It's clowning with a heart, though, and it pretty much obliterates the third AND fourth wall. The story goes that Leonie's girlfriend Paula is "on the pull" for a man, and everyone is recruited to help. Cohorts Duane and Neil aren't a lot of help in this quest, but they do have a lot of fun pulling the spotlight and general mayhem.

    Paula O'Reilly (L) and Leonie McDonagh get their ponies on in ponydance: Anybody Waitin?  
    Photo by Amanda Gentile  
    Paula O'Reilly (L) and Leonie McDonagh get their ponies on
      
    The musical mania of the '70s and '80s is alive onstage — Abba's "Dancing Queen" comes to mind, though it doesn't appear here. Clothes that go with this theme are a big part of the show. Costume changes are done onstage, of course, sometimes in a magic black tent that fits as many people as a clown car.

    Behind all the fun is some serious craft, it bears saying. Laurie Uprichard, curator of Travelogues, the series that brings us ponydance, says this best in her program notes: "They're Irish, so they know enough not to take themselves too seriously, but they take the work seriously." Notes of awkward and desperate are played lightly enough to remind us that none of us are immune, and that human connections are dicey.

    Still, Anybody Waitin'? is the sort of immersive farce that puts a sheen of surreality on everything you see after you leave the theater. And don't we all need that once in a while?

    OCTOBER 9, 2015
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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