Where Did It All Go Right?

Ponydance present 'Where did it all go right?'

Ponydance present 'Where did it all go right?'

Where Did It All Go Right? is a highly engaging and charming adrenaline rush of a contemporary dance piece, where the emphasis is most definitely on contemporary. With no little skill, Ponydance manage to recreate an intense clubbing-cum-pop sensibility and style of dance that yet is underpinned and subtexted by the abstractions and vocabulary of the more familiar and traditionally abstract modern form of choreography most of us know, as they retell a familiar tale of four people out enjoying themselves, getting out of their heads and out of their bodies.

The setting for this production - upstairs in the pub The Left Bank, which used to be the old Bank of Ireland in Kikenny – is perfect as Ponydance isolate one corner of the large first floor space in order to dynamically and humorously step out their tale in a rapid fire, high energy 50 minutes. For most of the show, Duane Watters stands behind the bar laying down the tunes that drive Where Did It All Go Right? Near the end, though, Duane joins in the fun in spectacular fashion with some extraordinary dancing moves that thrilled the female members of the audience in particular and gave the proceedings a girls’ night out feel for a few minutes.

Given that the story itself isn’t very new, nor are most of the jokes that the company insert into the performance, it’s all the more remarkable that the charm and wit of the dancers makes it irrelevant that we’ve seen and heard the scenarios in front of us a million times before. Granted, we haven’t seen these tales told in quite this fashion. Thus, it’s the telling of the tales and the style in which they're told that makes Where Did It All Go Right? such a winning production.

Another part of the seduction of the production is the manner by which they weave the human into the performance. This is first of all done when Paula O’Reilly doubles as both company manager and dancer, so that when she introduces the performance at the beginning there’s huge irony in her repeated thanks to Kilkenny Arts Festival and her chastising glances at late-comers. This theme of double identity as performer/dancer and the person behind their stage role continues throughout and leads to rivalry between the two female dancers, O’Reilly and artistic director, Leonie McDonagh in her dual roles. Their cattish exchanges are mostly a fight over the attention of male dancer Ryan O’Neill.

Ponydance also introduce some well-staged audience participation, provoked by clever intrusions by the performers into the audience, whether it’s to get someone up to dance or the forcing of male hands on the bra and knickered body of Leonie McDonagh. Along with humour, there is a lot of sex in Where Did It All Go Right?, though it either emerges in a comical vein or else is implicit in the choreography.

Throughout it all, though, the four dancers, in highly-charged fashion, keep the thread of a narrative of a night out that begins with hope but ends in exhaustion and disillusionment. Where Did It All Go Right? shows what an amazing storyteller the body can be – and with it, Ponydance drag contemporary dance into all the gaudiness of the now.

Patrick Brennan was chief theatre critic and arts writer with the Irish Examiner from 1990-2004. He is currently writing a book on the theatre of Tom Murphy.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Where Did It All Go Right? by Ponydance

6- 8 August, 2010

Produced by Ponydance in association with the Kilkenny Arts Festival
In The Left Bank, Kilkenny

Directed by Leonie McDonagh

With: Paula O'Reilly, Ryan O'Neill, Leonie McDonagh, Duane Watters