Robert Tanitch reviews This is Ceilidh at London Wonderground, Southbank Centre
For the third year running, there is a summer-long, May to August, festival of cabaret, circus and sideshows and it is taking place on a site right next to Hungerford Bridge and the Golden Jubilee Bridges, and seconds away from the London Eye.
The site is all part of an amusement park, which its creators liken to early 20th century Coney Island, with fairground, live music, dancing and outdoor bars.
Performances take place in a wooden circus tent. There are seven main shows running in repertoire and lots of individual vaudeville acts with singers, comedians, acrobats and drag artists.
So there is plenty of choice. I saw This is Ceilidh, which has come straight from the Edinburgh Festival and which is not a show. It’s all audience participation. It’s like attending a party; it brings people together in a friendly atmosphere.
Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee) is a traditional Gaelic shindig which involves Gaelic folk music and dancing. There’s a kilted band and bagpipes. The audience (well-behaved, quick learners, all ages represented) do all the dancing. There are two personable masters of ceremonies to teach the steps.
You can either dance or you can sit at a table and have a drink and watch. Most people dance. You don’t have to be a good dancer; and within any one set piece, you are constantly changing partners.
There are special family matinees for children aged 5+.