Edinburgh Festival Fringe dance review: Ponies Don’t Play Football, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kelly Apter
Arrive a few minutes late for ponydance’s latest show and you might be forgiven for thinking you’ve wandered into a strip club. Three women, wearing nothing but pants and a thin line of tape over their nipples, gyrate provocatively against five male musicians. If this was anywhere else, and anybody else, an alarm would sound in most liberal-minded heads. But it’s
ponydance, so it’s fine.
The Belfast-based company is known for straddling the boundaries of good taste, and Ponies Don’t Play Football sees them with a high heel firmly planted on either side of that line. “Did anyone get a semi?” asks lead pony Leonie McDonagh after their opening routine. The band members all raise their hands, everyone else is too busy laughing.
There’s a rare energy to a ponydance show which hits you right between the eyes. The comedy may come thick and fast, but there’s no denying these ponies can dance. Theirs is a highly physical, frankly unclassifiable mix of contemporary dance, commercial jazz dance and “throw yourself around” dance theatre.
Each routine comes with a costume change – all of which are ridiculous yet somehow aesthetically pleasing. And they’re not afraid to get themselves messed up and sweaty – which is just as well, as some serious calories get burned during this show.
To call lead singer Donal Scullion and his fellow-musicians a backing band would be doing them an injustice. The lads are integral throughout, and seem pretty much up for anything – especially at the end, when the musicians and dancers swap roles.
Sharply dressed trumpeter Michael Barkley is the foil to all this tomfoolery, delivering some fine playing and a fun running gag (although his pretend thesis reading feels a bit like padding).
These ponies may not play football, but they certainly know how to hit the back of the net.
Dance Base (venue 22), run ended
Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015
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