A rainbow of blarney and song

Dublin-born Dave Monks in Irish to the Core, to be staged at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Pietermaritzburg at 2.30pm and 7pm this Sunday (March 12) and then from March 24 to 26 at the Durban branch of the theatre, in Umbilo.

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Stage: Dave Monks in Irish to the Core –  Rhumbelow Theatre

Review: BILLY SUTER

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I HAD never been to Tina’s Hotel in Kloof until Sunday, when I attended a show by Dublin-born Dave Monks in the 100-seater functions room, on the clearing above the pub and restaurant area, which has now become another local branch for Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre.

The hotel is a rather quaint and popular venue which, built in 1941 at 14 Beryldene Road, started life as the privately owned Beryldene Hotel and, according to the hotel’s website, over the years saw its restaurant gain a strong following.

Bought by a Tina Strong in 1968, the venue soon became known as Tina’s Hotel, and retained that name when the current owners took it over in 2005.

I thoroughly enjoyed a basket of chicken strips, onion rings and slap chips that I ordered before attending Monks’s show, Irish to the Core, on Sunday night, and on a few people’s recommendation, booked for the hotel’s popular curry buffet on Tuesday night.

The buffet – offering as much as you wish to eat of curried lamb, prawn, chicken, beef, vegetable and fish (a yummy yellowtail when I was in), complete with sambals, home-made bread and papadums – is held every Tuesday from 6pm and, if not exactly five-star, is pretty good value.

All curries were very tasty (although the prawn curry was a little too tomato-ey for my taste) – and it is good to report, too, that the function room is a great little venue for shows.

Monks – formerly of hit 1970s duo Leprechaun, which he formed with brother Harry – is taking Irish to the Core to the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Rhumbelow Theatre, at the Allan Wilson shellhole, at 2.30pm and 7pm this Sunday (March 12). It is then to be presented at the Durban branch – in Cunningham Road, Umbilo – at 8pm on March 24 and 25, and 2pm and 6.30pm on March 26.

The show, presented on a stage where various Irish-themed hats perch on microphone stands, is an informal, cheerful and very enjoyable entertainment if you warm to Irish singalongs, a swarm of jokes and sentimental ballads associated with the Emerald Isle.

Opening with favourites including the amusing Paddy McGinty’s Goat, Ireland’s Call, Donegal’s Danny, Fields of Athenry and the irresistibly catchy The Wild Rover, Dave constantly switches between fiddle, banjo, guitar, harmonica, tin-whistle and vocals, augmented with backing tracks.

His mixed bag of music and mirth includes various reels and jigs, as well as the poignant The Old Man, Botany Bay, Whiskey in the Jar, Dirty Old Town, Finnigan’s Ball, The Boys From the County Armagh, Clare to Here, Fairytale in New York (in duet with the recorded voice of Durban darling Marion Loudon) and the fun audience-participation novelty, The Fly.

Also well received by an appreciate audience was a medley of golden oldies including When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, My Bonnie lies Over the Ocean and I Belong to Glasgow.

Round up some buddies, wear something green, pop along, enjoy a few drinks and get into toe-tapping and swaying mode. It’s enormous fun!

Tickets cost R150 each and booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


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