Friday, March 27, 2009

All My Sons

There's a new production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons coming into the Gate Theatre, previewing from Thur 2 April and opening on Tue 7. It's an interesting time to revisit this powerful play, with its highly relevant themes of corruption, scapegoating and personal integrity - set just after the Second World War and first produced in 1947, when the memories of that war and its far-reaching effects were still painfully fresh. In this tale of two families, Miller offers us Middle America, affluent, comfortable and confident, but with an undercurrent of distrust and unease that eventually implodes. 
Heading the cast is veteran American actor Len Cariou, winner of a Tony for his lead in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd, opposite none other than Angela Lansbury. Robin Lefevre directs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Comedy of Errors

Director Jason Byrne (Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar) flexes his Shakespearian muscles at the Abbey once again, with a new production of the Bard's mischievous tour de force The Comedy of Errors. A contemporary take on the definitive rom-com, this is a big show with a big cast, among them Charlie Bonner, Susannah de Wrixon, John Kavanagh, Helen Norton and Deirdre Roycroft. As always in Shakespeare's comedies, mistaken identities and delicious confusions abound, as two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, happen to find themselves in the same place at the same time. Previews at the Abbey from Tue 24 March, opens on Tue 31.

The Fold

Note Productions and the Bottlenote collective have set up The Fold, a space for new improvised and experimental music. The place is the beautiful St Audeons, Dublin's earliest surviving medieval church, and the aim is to provide a platform for emerging artists and new practices (everything from noise and drones to jazz and traditional idioms) with monthly performances between now and June. Kicking off on Thur 26 March, the opening event features saxophonist Sean Og, experimentalists Fergus Cullen, Gavin Duffy and sound artist Karl Him, with special guest Iarla O Lionaird. Other performers taking part in the series include Morla, Justin Carroll and Cathal Coughlan. 

The Irish-Spanish Connection

There's a nice bit of cross-cultural pollination bubbling away at the Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray on Friday 27 March. The excellent Cormac Breatnach, a leading exponent of the evocative low whistles, teams up with Armagh-based trad band Buille and one of Spain's best-known folk bands La Musgana. Performing both independently and together, this one-night-only collaboration should provide a fascinating showcase for Breatnach's sultry whistles, alongside the broad sweep of concertina-ace Niall Vallely's original music for Buille, and the rich traditions of La Musgana's Castilian heritage.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer

Project, til Sat 28 March
This is an ambitious play both in structure and concept, and Rough Magic have given it a worthy production, but maybe it's a bit too worthy for its own good. The daring format brings together the elements of a grand choral mass - kyrie, agnus dei etc - and the whole is an invocation to the moon (what is it about the moon this month?) performed by a series of couples, most of whom are soul-searching in an intense and almost confessional manner, though the show is stolen early on by the ardent and joyful passion of young lovers Isabelle and Yannick.
Personally I found the religious overtones a tad ponderous, but there's no denying the quality of the production, and although individual voices are at times a bit lost within the confines of Paul O'Mahony's impressive vertical set, the complexities of the choral interplay are handled with admirable dexterity by a fine cast.

Sam Shepard: Ages of the Moon

Peacock Theatre, til Sat 14 April
A sort of grumpy old men for the 21st century with shades of Beckett, as two old friends sit on a porch in the middle of nowhere, one invading the other's jealously guarded history. Ames is licking his wounds because his wife has thrown him out, Byron is there to pick up the pieces and be at the receiving end of Ames's increasingly abusive outbursts. There's alot of bourbon, a gun, a bit of fun with a ceiling fan, a rambling story about Roger Miller and the promise of a lunar eclipse. It's entertaining, you think, but maybe not worth writing a whole new play for. And then suddenly you're in there, hook, line and sinker, surrounded by the truth of your own mortality.
Great performances from Stephen Rea as Ames and Sean McGinley as Byron - initially the balance is weighted towards Rea, gruff, jumpy and acerbic, but McGinley really comes into his own in the final part of the play. Beautiful lighting from Paul Keoghan, as the sky slowly shifts from a soft empty blue to the dark night of a total eclipse.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lionel Loueke Trio

The Improvised Music Company follow up their excellent 12 Points! festival - a remarkably diverse and continually fascinating celebration of new jazz - with a visit from the Lionel Loueke Trio, who play JJ Smyths on Sun 15 & Mon 16 March. Loueke, the guitarist who wowed audiences at Herbie Hancock's recent Tripod show, is joined by long-time collaborators Swedish bassist Massimo Biolcati and Hungarian drummer Ferenc Nemeth for an intimate evening of jazz that draws on the seductive sounds and folklore of Loueke's native Benin and neighbouring West African countries. Karibu, Loueke's debut for Blue Note, has just been released.

Jigs on the Green

Ceol agus Craic at the NCH over Paddy's Weekend, kicking off with a live(ly) session of Ceili House on Sat 14 march presented as ever by the genial Kieran Hanrahan, he of the mellow voice. Legendary Scots singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan tops the bill, with sets from flautist Emer Mayock and friends along with the Sligo All Stars. Dazzling Galician piper Carlos Nunez hits the stage with his band on Sun 15, backed up by full orchestra; and on Mon 16 it's the turn of the fiddles, flutes, banjos and squeezeboxes of the Kilfenora Ceili Band, celebrating their 100th birthday with a roof-raising night of music and dance.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Churchill and Gaza

Pioneering playwright Caryl Churchill, whose politically charged work has highlighted oppression in its many different guises, has written a short play in response to the bombing of Gaza. Seven Jewish Children will be staged at the Peacock from 12-14 March following performances of Sam Shepard's Ages of the Moon. Churchill has stipulated that the play can be performed anywhere for free, provided there's no admission charge and a collection is made for MAP -  Medical Aid for Palestinians. Other performances of this play around Ireland include Rough Magic at Project on 7 March, and the Abbey production will also feature at Vicar Street on 16 March alongside the likes of Christy Moore, Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack, as part of an event organised by the Anti-War Movement

Sunday, March 1, 2009

CoisCeim Boxes

CoisCeim are taking to the road with a revamped version of their hit show Boxes, first staged back in the heady days of 2000 (when the only way was up). An ingenious two-hander - though appropriately darker than the original given the times that are in it - it features Broadway tap-dancing legend Jason E Barnard and Critics Choice winner Lee Clayden as factory works doing very creative things with cardboard boxes. The tour starts at the Civic in Tallaght on 5 March and finishes in Drogheda on 2 May. More details @

Rough Magic

Hard to believe that Rough Magic, the company founded by Lynne Parker, has been around for 25 years. Always at the vanguard of independent theatre, they have largely resisted the temptation to become a comfortable part of the establishment, and in recent years have been heavily involved in the nurturing of young talent through their SEEDS programme. One relative newcomer to the RM stable is director Tom Creed, who showed his worth in last year's adventurous production of Life is a Dream. Creed is back at the directing helm for the Irish premiere of Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer by leading Quebecois playwright Michel Tremblay, which previews at Project from 5 March and opens on Mon 9. Shaped by the traditional rituals of a choral mass, this provocative and emotional play draws on themes of love, sex, faith and forgiveness as 11 people tell their stories on a moonlit summer's night in Montreal. The fine cast includes many RM veterans along with high calibre actors such as Cathy Belton, Jane Brennan and Barry McGovern. You can eavesdrop on the rehearsal room @

Celebrating their quarter century at the start of next month, Rough Magic will stage a series of rehearsed readings at Project from 3-5 April. A cross between a 'best of' and a 'what's next', it includes new versions of Racine's Phedre featuring traditional Irish instruments, Ibsen's Peer Gynt with a live band, and Tom Murphy's The Informer, as well as Arthur Riordan's Dev spoof The Emergency Session, Gina Moxley's Danti Dan, and the show that made their name across the water, Declan Hughes' Digging for Fire.


Wonderland Productions are nothing if not inventive. This time last year they brightened up our lunchtimes with a tasty version of Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci at Bewleys, and food plays a central role once again in their latest show La Locandiera which runs at the Port House tapas bar from Mon 2 March. A great setting for Goldoni's lively comedy, this crowded bustling space takes on the role of an inn in 18th century Florence where the seductive Mirandolina holds sway. There's tapas and wine for the audience as the action swirls about them, with a generous helping of Neapolitan arias and folksongs courtesy of Mirandolina and her bevy of admirers.