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Ireland’s Call Playhouse Theatre Weston-Super-Mare Review 3rd March 2016


Ireland’s Call is a colourful new musical coming direct from Ireland and celebrating all things Irish, their music, dancing, and most of all the powerful emotion and indomitable spirit of the Irish people. Its story is based on actual events of the time during the late 1930s when the young Sean Dempsey fell in love with his childhood sweetheart Cora but after the second World War followed the example of so many of his countrymen and left her behind to cross the Atlantic to America in the hope of forging a better life for them both.

Ged Graham is the narrator of the story and perfect for the role (in fact three roles as he plays his two brothers as well who, he says, luckily look remarkably like him, a better piece of Irish wit as you could get!), bluff and bearded he has both a powerful singing and speaking voice. His delivery of the old song “I loved her first” at the marriage of his daughter was full of depth and passion and struck a chord with many fathers in the audience who had given away a daughter.

The story is illustrated by a large backdrop behind the stage which not only shows archive footage of the times; America in the 1950s and 60s, a speech by the most famous American, Irish by descent, Jack Kennedy, but also the letters exchanged between the two sweethearts.

However, the dancing is the star of the show! Not since I saw the famous Riverdance some twenty years ago (and it must be said that this was what started it all) have I seen such intricate footwork, precision down to each soft or hard tap, an explosion of energy and technique forming a fantastic display. The costumes are traditional, except when the story moves to New York in the 50s when the cast show that they can jitterbug with the best of them as well.

Mike Burr and Shauna Barry play the star-crossed lovers Sean and Cora and are both accomplished singers and wonderful dancers. Helena Gullan and Chris Duggan are two fine musicians, and backed by an ensemble of dancers this is a show to lift your spirits and send you home singing the Irish Rover, which you will have done already during the sing-song part of the show. We lost count at the third deserved encore and it was one of the best evenings we’ve spent for a long time.

Jacquie Vowles

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