By Lia Cocks
Settling into the Dunstan Playhouse on a cold and dreary night, the only thing we needed to warm the cockles was a pint and a good story. Thankfully, we got both.
Entering dressed in a kilt to wolf whistles from the crowd, the stage slowly lit up each musician as they joined in the opening song. And what an eclectic mix of musos it was! After learning the correct Irish way to cheer for a song you like (Yeaow!, if you are curious), the audience went wild when the dazzling talents of the fantastic Mr Fox were unveiled.
A remarkably charming, charismatic and captivating stage performer, Mr Fox (I enjoy referring to him in this formal manner) brings his distinctive storytelling, song, dance and limericks all wrapped up in his delectable Irish accent, to Adelaide for the first time.
If it sounds like I’m crushing on Bobby, you’d be right. What’s not to love about a handsome, blue eyed, tap dancing, kilt wearing Irish man who sings songs about loving Bonnie lasses and his ma’m?
His story’s journey begins where the inspiration for this show occurred. Just a year ago, during opening night of Assassins, he shattered his foot. Which lead to time off contemplating life. He described that during this break, he began to think about his homeland, which he had left some 20 years earlier to come to Australia. Upon this reflection and reminiscing on his younger years, he came to realise how much he missed his heritage, and how much joy it sparked, Marie Condo style, when he started listening and replaying his family’s favourite melodies.
One could honestly see the joy radiating from his face to the dress circle when singing classics such as Danny Boy, Galway Girl, The Fields of Athenry (a beautiful ode to his dad) and The Foggy Dew.
He told the delightful story of how he became a four-time World Champion Irish dancer - coached by his non dancer mother in their small living room, to the youngest member of Riverdance at the age of 15.
His bright, soulful but cheerful voice lent itself perfectly to ‘Marry the Sea’, in which he began acapella, with a low hum undertone. Each instrument then quietly built up to full band, before the violin and Fox on accordion kicks in. Just so heartfelt and profound.
We were then thankfully treated to Mr Fox’s twinkle toes for a little Irish jig. Influenced by the great Michael Flatley, he showed by he earned those championship titles. Rusty he was not. Virtuoso, sprightly, incredibly fleet-footed - what a thrill!
His musos enlightened us with their connection to Ireland - whether through heritage, music, or mates, they all had a story to share about the spirit of the song. He then dedicated the classic ‘The Auld Triangle’, which included a few ‘yeaows’ and audience participation, to his mum.
As he thanked the musicians, each part of their stage dims as they walk off, until it is just Mr Fox and his marvellous Musical Director Glen Moorhouse. He finishes the song, acapella, at the front of the stage, with no microphone.
Just him, and his voice. Extraordinary.
An incredible night of enchanting songs, dance and showmanship.
You are welcome back to Adelaide anytime, Mr Fox.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.