Máire Clerkin comes from Irish stock and grew up in London. This blend might explain her satirically grim portrait of the world she grew up in, and the cheerfully British mask she places over it. In some ways, Clerkin's one-woman show is a study in the loneliness of being ignored by her workaholic dance-teacher mother, who focused all her attention on the paying customers. This child's-eye view could be peevish stuff were Clerkin not so intractably good-humored. Nor does she place herself above her mocking portraits, including at age 14 a groping suitor in the dance hall, his eyes boggling, tongue swishing lips as he grabs her hips at arm's length and pushes her around the dance floor like a mop. "Hot in here," he notes. "What do you say we step outside for some fresh air?" "That sounds like a good idea," she chirps back with wide-eyed innocence, and with a politeness that forms the outer crust of British civility. Aside from her animated impersonations and snapshot transitions between them, the focal point of Clerkin's coming-of-age saga is her right elbow, that drifts outward while performing Irish folk dances, a "bad arm" that her mother says is responsible for her placing poorly in so many competitions. The requisite of keeping both arms slammed into one's body emerges as a metaphoric constriction in a world that Clerkin captures so meticulously, with the help of Dan O'Connor's direction and Maxine Mohr's pristinely delicate sound design. Intro to snogging (French kissing) is one of many rites of passage detailed by Clerkin with a blend of intrigue and disgust, as is binge-drinking and the morning-after consequences in one high-stakes public display. Clerkin's glorious riffs of traditional Irish dance and disco, and some intermingling of both genres, make her argument for transcendence with nary a word spoken.
Sun., Aug. 10, 8 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 14, 8 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 31, 8 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 7, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 11, 8 p.m.; Thu., Sept. 18, 8 p.m., 2008