FRINGE REVIEW – Helen O’Brien: Bronagh’s Big Weekend


By S Mulvihill

Helen O’Brien is a master storyteller. In her one woman play we are introduced to Bronagh, a teenage Manchunian with Irish parents, a bad haircut and a crush. With a wickedly witty script and charismatic delivery O’Brien ensured her audience was thoroughly entertained for the hour.

Dressed simply in a black top and kilted skirt O’Brien seemlessly sheds twenty or so years to become her teenage alter-ego. With a perfectly nuanced performance she captures the angst and excitement everyone remembers from being that age, right down to the odd sideways tilt of the head, exasperated sighs and scuffing of shoes. Punctuated by clips from 80s songs between scenes, Bronagh takes us through her ‘big weekend’ of birthdays, family weddings, Irish Dancing championships and bad dresses. From disaster to disaster, Bronagh handles everything in an slightly naïve, sanguine manner and by the end you wish she was the kind of friend you had at that age. O’Brien shows off her skills as an Irish dancer throughout, which seem impressive, but herein lies the only downside to the show. The venue doesn’t have a raised stage or raked seating, so those not in the front row miss the full effect of the dancing as they can only see a head bobbing up and down. In a medium where all the performance lies in the footwork it is not an ideal space, but overall it doesn’t detract from a highly entertaining piece of theatre. There is humour in every line, and a quick, fluid movement to the script means you are almost afraid to laugh for fear of missing something great.

Helen O’Brien has perfect comic timing and an easy manner which makes her audience totally comfortable. Bronagh’s Big Weekend might have some predictable twists, but O’Brien’s charm means you forgive and forget any cliches and immerse yourself entirely in the story.

Pleasance Courtyard until 25/08/13 12:50 (1 hr)

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