Friday, December 17, 2010

The Abbey Habit

There’s some great stuff coming up at the Abbey. First off is Dion Boucicault’s Arrah-na-Pogue, (last seen at the Abbey over 30 years ago) opening on Wed 21 Dec. There’s nothing like a bit of rip-roaring rollicking Boucicault to beat those winter/recession blues, and when the inimitable Mikel Murfi is at the helm as director, then you’re in for a real treat. Set in the Wicklow mountains in 1798, romance and skullduggery are in the air as popular rebel Beamish MacCoul lies in wait to ambush the rent man before heading off to marry Fanny Power, while down in the valley Shaun the post declares his love for the feisty Arrah. But the evil Michael Feeny has other plans… Original live music performed each night by Conor Linehan, and the top-notch cast includes the Marys Murray & O’Driscoll, the Peters Daly, Gowen & Hanley, Aaron Monaghan, Jack Walsh and Rory Nolan.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Music update

Oh My God it’s only two weeks to Christmas, how did that happen? The snow put a halt to everyone’s gallop, but time to get back into the spirit of things. The Christmas concert from Gloria, Dublin’s gay and lesbian choir (now 15 years old), has proved so popular over the last few years that they’ve moved to a much bigger venue, the soaring heights of St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s on Thur 16 @8pm, admission is free, donations on the night to the Choir and GCN Forever. Also at St Patrick’s, the beautiful and very popular Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols takes place on Sun 19 @3.15pm. Get there early to get a seat.
There’s two lots of Christmas Tidings from the excellent National Chamber Choir, in Monkstown Church of Ireland on Wed 22 (8pm) and the Hugh Lane Gallery on Thur 23 (3pm). David Brophy conducts a nice mix of well-known Christmas favourites and more unusual pieces, including Benjamin Britten's Christ's Nativity, Taverner's Ikon of the Nativity, Poulenc’s Quatre motets pour le temps de Noel and Mel Torme's The Christmas Song.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let It Snow

Oh the weather outside is delightful, but there’s a limit to the number of snowmen you can make and all that sloshing around is a bit hard on the feet. So check out a bit of culture instead – there’s more to December than pantos and Christmas carols. A couple more concerts in the Hugh Lane Sundays @Noon series before they close up shop for the hols: on Sun 5 Dublin based Russian-German pianist Elisaveta Blumina is joined by the Staatskapelle Berlin Woodwind Quintet for a lovely programme of Anton Reicha, Jean Francaix, Piazzolla, and Poulenc’s Sextet for piano, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. On Sun 12 the Riverrun Piano Quartet continue their Brahms’ series with the Piano Quartet in C minor, along with works for viola and piano by Schumann and Joseph Joachim. And remember it’s all free.
Ok, so you can’t avoid a bit of seasonal caroling, but head off the beaten track a bit and you might find some real treats. Fingal Chamber Choir give their Christmas concert on Sun 12 (4pm) in one of Dublin’s hidden gems, the Church of St John the Baptist in Drumcondra, a fascinating slice of historic rural Ireland plonked in the middle of suburbia.
Two lunchtime concerts from the NSO at the NCH: On Tue 14 the RTE Philharmonic Choir lend their considerable voices to seasonal favourites such as Stille Nacht and Veni, veni Emmanuel alongside Corelli’s Christmas Concerto; on Fri 17 the contribution from the youthful Cor na nOg includes Reger’s The Virgin’s Slumber Song, while the orchestra indulge in some Nutcracker excerpts
At the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room, a Christmas series with a difference: Soilse na Nollaig brings together some of the leading lights of the traditional Irish music scene including the likes of singers Moya Brennan, Karan Casey, Maighread & Triona Ni Dhomhnaill, Meav and Iarla O Lionaird, and virtuoso musicians Cormac de Barra (harp), Máire Breatnach (fiddle), Steve Cooney (guitar), Niall Vallely (concertina) and Caomhin Vallely (piano). Concerts are at lunchtime and teatime and run from Wed 15 to Tue 23.
The Contemporary Music Centre are getting into the Christmas spirit with Winter Variations, two free concerts on Dec 15 from newly formed ensemble SoundSet. Featuring contemporary Christmas carols, including new works written specifically for the occasion by Irish composers Anne Marie O’Farrell, Jane O’Leary and Nick Roth, there’s also an international carol by Pawel Lukaszewski of Poland and works by Stephen Gardner, Piers Hellawell and Solfa Carlile.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Must Have Music

Hey ho, what a way to start the week. Brian Eno’s ambient masterpiece Apollo gets a live performance at the NCH on Tue 9 as one of the key events of Science Week. Performed by pioneering classical ensemble Icebreaker with pedal steel guitarist PJ Cole in a special arrangement by composer Jun Lee, this show returns the music to its original concept as a non-narrative counterpart to some amazing Nasa footage from the Apollo space missions, which will be projected during the performance.

The Contemporary Music Centre’s salon series continues with new music::new Ireland, two informal concerts at the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room which sees the ConTempo String Quartet take a second look at works written for them in recent years. The first salon on Wed 10 (6pm) features music by Rhona Clarke and Grainne Mulvey, with both composers in attendance. On Wed 17 they’re joined by guitarist John Feeley for movements from Eric Sweeney’s Concert for Guitar, as well as works by Jennifer Walshe and Jane O’Leary. Admission free, booking advisable.

Something quite different at the Samuel Beckett Theatre on Sat 13. Hadith al Rouh (Conversations of the Soul) is a theatrical concert created by Evangelia Rigaki, newly appointed lecturer in composition at TCD. A variation on the Sufi song by the famous Egyptian singer Oum Kalthoum, described as the Maria Callas of Arab Music, Rigaki has recomposed the piece for soprano, ud player and a 12 part male voice choir.

If it’s Sunday it must be the Hugh Lane Gallery for some great free music @ Noon. Cellist Mirian Roycroft and pianist Reamonn Keary get together on Sun 14 for works by Schumann, Barber and Chopin; on Sun 21 the Callino Quartet play string quartets by Haydn and on Sun 28 Polish pianist Slawomir Wilk plays Chopin as part of the Chopin 200 celebrations.

The Irish Baroque Orchestra are at Christ Church Cathedral on Thur 18 with The Three Fiddlers, a celebration of the violin with works by Pachelbel (Canon & Gigue) Bach (Triple Violin Concerto in D), Vivaldi (Concerto for 3 Violins in F) et al.

Resurgam choir have something quite fascinating on offer in Magnificat: Songs of Freedom and Justice, at St Nicholas of Myra Church on Thur 18. At the core of the programme is Giles Swayne’s 1982 setting of the biblical text, written after the composer spent two months in Senegal and the Gambia, which uses a Jola work-song as an opening call and returning motif, juxtaposing and highlighting the radical import of the traditional words. Other settings of the Magnificat, including those by Irish composers Caitríona Ní Dhubhghaill and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly as well as Tavener and Arvo Part, are layered with a selection of South African freedom songs.

John Ruddock’s excellent MLA is back in action at Imma on Sun 21 with an afternoon concert featuring dymanic Czech violinist Ivan Zenaty. He’s joined by pianist Stanislav Boguna for works by Prokofiev, Beethoven, Clara Schumann and Grieg. Tickets €20 at the door.

Wondering what to do on a chilly Monday night? Head for Whelan’s on Mon 22 where the Improvised Music Company present Chris Potter’s Underground, live and kicking from New York. ‘One of the best saxophonists on the planet’ said The Guardian of Potter, who is joined onstage by drummer Nate Smith, Adam Rogers on guitar and Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes.

There’s some tasty stuff from the RTE Concert Orchestra at the NCH on Wed 24, when they’re joined by ace fiddler Martin Hayes for the world premiere of Dave Flynn’s Aontacht (Unity): A Concerto for Traditional Irish Musician and Orchestra. If that sounds a bit Riverdancey, Flynn has explained his use of the orchestra as some kind of giant accompanying instrument, a mythical combination of Leo Rowsome’s uilleann pipes, Dennis Cahill’s guitar, Steve Reich’s ensemble and Arvo Part’s strings, while the fiddle draws not only on Hayes’ extraordinary musicianship but the inspiration of fiddlers like Tommy Potts Paddy Canny, Paddy Fahey and Ed Reavy. Hayes is joined by Denis Cahill and violinist Brona Cahill, Flynn’s Music for the Departed, there’s orchestral music from Arvo Part, and by way of a nice bit of contrast, a set from Hayes and Cahill.

A new work for the National Chamber Choir created by upcoming young British composer Tarik O’Regan gets its world premiere at St Ann's, Dawson St on Thur 25. Acallam na Senórach /Tales of the Elders is a concert-length chamber piece for 16 singers and guitar soloist (Stewart French), based on the most important medieval text of the Fenian Cycle, which follows the aging Oisín and Caílte as they travel across Ireland with the newly arrived St Patrick. O’Regan’s work has already received numerous awards including two Grammy nominations and his forthcoming opera Heart of Darkness, based on Conrad’s novel, opens in London next year.

November November

What a busy month: the nights may be closing in but that’s no excuse to draw the curtains, light the fire and put up the feet (mm, sounds tempting) – there’s just too much going on out there. Lots of stuff at Project, Corn Exchange are previewing their new production of Beckett’s sublime Happy Days which opens on Tue 9 and runs til Sat 20. Expect a slightly different slant on this portrayal of human resilience in the face of desolation. Fishamble have a new play by Sean McLoughlin Big Ole Piece of Cake, also running til Sat 20. Starting on Mon 29 Irish Modern Dance Theatre bring together video artas Charles Atlas and choreographer John Scott for In This Moment ‘a dazzling dreamlike meeting of high energy dance, vibrant colours, quirky humour, a musical soundscape in five languages and giant projections filmed live with a cast of seven outstanding dancers’. Phew! And from Randolph SD comes Ellamenope Jones, a new musical theatre piece with a contemporary gothic edge and a dollop of greed and desperation that opens on Tue 30.

Meanwhile David Horan’s new production of Brian Friel’s iconic Dancing at Lughnasa is at the Helix until Sat 19 with a top notch cast including Charlie Bonner, Donna Dent, Maeve Fitzgerald, Garret Keogh, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh, Marie Ruane, Stephen Swift and Susannah de Wrixon.

PurpleHeart are at Focus Theatre with the European Premiere of Men of Tortuga by upcoming American playwright Jason Wells. A dark comedy of negotiation, conspiracy and assassination that exposes the barbarism encoded in corporate bureaucracy, it had a critically acclaimed debut at Steppenwolf’s New Work programme. Captivating, according to Variety magazine. John O’Brien directs this new production with a cast including Dermot Magennis, Les martin, Gerry O’Brien, Stewart Roche and Steve Wilson. Previews from Tue 9, opens thur 11.

Oper Ireland sing out their last hurrah with their final season at the Gaeity – 7 performances of Puccini’s much loved Tosca kicking off on Thur 11 and running til Sun 21. Irish soprano Orla Boylan shares the lead role with Amarilli Nizza (replacing an indisposed Cara O’Sullivan). Making their Irish debut are Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias as Baron Scarpia and Argentinian tenor Marcello Puente as Sciarrone, and other Irish cast members include Nyle Wolfe and Imelda Drumm. Tickets from €25, student standbys available an hour before the show.

Dermot Bolger’s The Parting Glass is at the Wood Quay Venue on Sun 21 as part of 2010 Innovation Dublin, before heading out to Axis in Ballymun for another short run following its success there and in NYC this summer. Ray Yeates stars in this one man play about a returned emigrant’s experience of contemporary Ireland from bom to bust. A sort of sequel to Bolger’s In High Germany, it’s set on the infamous night when Thierry Henry dashed our World Cup hopes, that sleight of hand becoming a metaphor for the speedy deception of the post-boom years.

The Performance Corporation are heading out on tour with their recent sell-out hit Slattery’s Sago Saga, starting at the Mermaid in Bray on Tue 16 and visiting various points within reach of the capital such as Carlow and Newbridge. Arthur Riordain’s adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s unfinished comic masterpiece – one part carnival, one part surreal satire – features, among other things, a Scotch woman with an evil plan to outlaw the Irish potato. Jo Mangan directs, and the cast includes Clare Barrett, Darragh `Kelly, Lisa Lambe, Aonghus Og McAnally and Barry Ward.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Psycho Live

Something different for Halloween – Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho with live orchestra. Fifty years on from its release this cinematic masterpiece hits the big screen again, this time with the RTE Concert Orchestra performing Bernard Herrmann’s spine-tingling score live. All your favourite scariest bits enhanced by those shrieking strings, catch it at the NCH on Sun 31 Oct, 3pm &

Big Ole Piece of Cake

Fishamble (the New Play Company) are going on a short tour with the world premiere of Big Ole Piece of Cake, the much anticipated second play by Sean McLoughlin, award-winning writer of Noah and the Tower Flower. In this bittersweet comedy Dublin lads Colin and Ray are out of work, out of luck, and nearly out of fags when they hook up with lonely ex-teacher Clarence in his remote Wicklow cottage, forming an unlikely alliance through the course of an increasingly drunken evening. Jim Culleton directs a top-notch cast including Joe Hanley, Mark Lambert and Ian-Lloyd Anderson. The show previews at the Mermaid in Bray on Oct 29 & 30, opens at the Civic in Tallaght on Nov 2 and also visits Project and Draiocht.

Lunchtime at St Ann's

A series of free lunchtime concerts at St Ann’s Dawson Street kicks off on Thur 28 with The Three Graces, an unusual programme of soprano trios by Monteverdi, Luzzaschi and Barbara Strozzi featuring sopranos Elizabeth Hilliard, Rachel Talbot and Claire Wallace. On Nov 4 Michael Lee sings songs by Schubert, Brahms and Vaughan Williams with Fergal Caulfield on piano; music for voice and piano on Nov 11 features soprano Victoria Massey and Padhraic O Cuinneagain; Triona Marshall plays the Irish Harp on Nov 18; and on Nov 25 Denise Neary talks about the History of Music at St Ann’s Church.

Irish Chamber Choir of Paris

A little bit of cross-cultural pollination takes place on Thur 28 Oct when the Irish Chamber Choir of Paris (the choir of the Centre Culturel Irelandais) give a free concert at the Unitarian Church, a timely volcanic ash rescheduling from last April - remember when that was the only thing we had to worry about. This is the first visit to Dublin of this all-female choir (they’re also heading to Galway), and they’ll be singing Pietro Paolo Bencini’s Missa de Oliveria and motets by Henry Madin, whose family left Ireland with the Wild Geese and who was born in Verdun in 1698.

Harping on

The Irish Composers Collective are in the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room on Thur 21 Oct with a concert focusing on the harp. Renowned harpist Anne-Marie O'Farrell will present new works for both classical and lever harps by Johanne Heraty, Daniel Barkley, Marc Tweedie, Piaras Hoban and Hugh Boyle, while Ian McDonnell will premiere an electronic work with material derived directly from the harp itself. A pre-concert talk looks at Traditional Instruments in Contemporary Composition.

Barry meets Beethoven

The National Chamber Choir team up with Crash Ensemble for a celebration of the work of internationally renowned Irish composer Gerald Barry at the Hugh Lane Gallery on Thur 21 Oct, 7pm. The programme features the premiere of a new commission entitled Schott and Sons, Mainz, using text from Emily Anderson’s The Letters of Beethoven published in 1961, and also includes Beethoven, Barry’s setting of Beethoven’s sole surviving love letters to a mysterious ‘immortal beloved’. Soloist is British bass Stephen Richardson.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Arvo Part

Fergus Sheil conducts the State Choir Latvija in a 4 concert tour, including St Ann’s Dawson Street on Thur 14, in celebration of the 75th birthday of the great Latvian composer Arvo Part. This retrospective of the composer’s choral music spans three decades of work that forms the spiritual core of his output, featuring iconic pieces such as Summa, the deeply reverential Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen and the ethereal Magnificat (1989). A highlight of the programme will be The Deer’s Cry, a setting of St Patrick’s Breastplate described by Part as his ‘gift to Irish audiences’, which was premiered by the State Choir Latvija in Drogheda in 2008. Also on the programme are three spiritual works by Irish composers: Deirdre McKay’s Plunkett’s Last Words, Rhona Clarke’s Two Marian Anthems and Mícheal O Suilleabhain’s Maranatha, an exuberant setting of the ancient ‘O Antiphons’ which also features in Part’s Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen. Tickets from

The Met: Live in HD

The Met: Live in HD Season is at a screen near you, kicking off on Sat 9 with a live screening from New York of Robert Lepages’s groundbreaking new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold. Bryn Terfel sings the leading role of Wotan, with Dublin-born mezzo Patricia Bardon in the role of Erda. Valery Gergiev conducts Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov on Oct 23; Anna Netrebko returns to the role of Norina, which made her a sensational Met star in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale on 13 Nov; Nicholas Hytner makes his Met directorial debut with Verdi’s Don Carlo on 11 Dec; and in the new year, Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West starring Deborah Voight on 8 Jan and Peter Sellars makes his Met debut with John Adams’ Nixon in China on 12 Feb. Tickets are €25, which might seem a bit steep but it’s a lot cheaper than regular opera, and last year’s season was a huge success. Participating Dublin venues include IMC Dun Laoghaire, Screen Cinema, Swan Cinema Rathmines, Movies@Dundrum and Movies@Swords.


Thisispopbaby and the Abbey are going back to WERK with Fat of the Land, bringing their Performance/Art/Club to all the Peacock spaces on Sat 9 &16 Oct. Performance roulette, design installation and house of outrageous investigation, previous artists have included Derbhle Crotty, Lisa Hannigan, The Rubberbandits, The Pulpit, Ponydance, Fionn Kidney, Chewy Chewerson, Bitches With Wolves and THEATREclub, all hosted by the inimitable (self-described craic-whore) Neil Watkins.

Sundays @ Noon

Sundays at Noon is back at the Hugh Lane Gallery: free music in great surroundings, what a civilized way to start your Sunday. This Sunday the Duo Nota Bene from Austria play works for violin and piano by Mahler, Reger, Schoenberg and Webern. On Sun 17 flautist William Dowdall gives the first of two concerts featuring music for flute and electronics from his new cd breathe, with works by John Buckley, Philip Hammond, Raymond Deane and Irish premieres by Stephen Matthews, Kevin O’Connell and Benjamin Dwyer. It’s the turn of Dulra on Sun 24 - Adrian Hart on fiddle, Kate Ellis on cello, Emer Mayock on flutes and Mel Mercier on percussion, joined by singer Caitriona OLeary, with music from their new cd Ecstasy. And on Sun 31 (that’s Halloween) Lorcán Mac Mathúna, Cathal Roche and Ian Wilson get together for Common Tongue, a trio combining sean-nós singing, improvising saxophone and live electronics.

Bewleys International Season

Bewleys are presenting a new International Season of lunchtime plays in association with Paines Plough, one of the UK’s leading new writing companies, and Glasgow’s Oran Mor. 5 premieres (commissioned by PP) from 5 high calibre playwrights over 5 weeks, from 4 Oct to 6 Nov. Marie Jones (of Stones in His Pockets fame) and David Harrower (Blackbird) have both had major international success, while Linda McLean, April De Angelis and Gary Owen have been highly acclaimed in their home countries of Scotland, England and Wales. Opening the season is Marie Jones’ Fly Me to the Moon, a black comedy that explores whether we are valued more in life or in death, as two broke community care workers struggle with their consciences when one of their charges has a posthumous win on the horses (til Sat 9 Oct). Next up is In the Pipeline by Welsh playwright Gary Owen, whose credits include the award-winning The Drowned World, a timely tale of local opposition to a liquid gas line in the countryside of west Wales. It’s followed by Linda McLean’s The Uncertainty Files, Calais by April De Angelis and finally Good with People by David Harrower.
Fly Me…the verdict? Brash and in your face, performed with gusto and (sometimes a tad too much) energy by Kate Tumelty and Abigail McGibbon as two care workers who let temptation get in their way. Some very funny attempts to construct the crime scene a la CSI Miami.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dublin Theatre Festival Reviews

In many ways this is quite an extraordinary piece of theatre. Slow, hypnotic, sensual, incredibly visual, a vast empty set, a pulsating soundtrack and studied, almost balletic movement as one scene after another slowly comes to life and fades away. The well-ordered lives of the controlled, wealthy family (of Passolini’s cult movie) gradually disintegrate on the arrival of a handsome stranger, who seduces them one by one, bringing first euphoria, then despair when he finally leaves. There are playful elements which at times feel quite out of place; it is when things are at their most heightened that this show really works: the intensity of the mother’s desire, the torture of her downfall. Largely without dialogue, the occasional spoken scenes seem at odds with everything else - the translation feels clunky and it can be hard to make sense of what’s being said, though when asked Do you believe in God? during a (scripted) q&a session at the start, the patriarch, after a pause, gives the wonderfully enigmatic response: I don’t understand the question. (til Mon 4)

This is a show that promises much but in the end doesn’t quite deliver. The Ancient Greeks were a violent, incestuous lot, and playwright Hilary Fannin has transported their bad habits and bad tempers to contemporary Ireland, with music by Ellen Cranitch providing the backwash, creating a live score with a nice touch of authenticity that fuses trad Irish with eastern flavours. I hadn’t expected singers, though I guess if you’re drawing inspiration from an opera (Rameau) that’s what you’re going to come up with, but the vocal lines are quite mundane and apart from Fionnuala Gill who has a sweet clear voice, the singers (doubling up as gods) are largely unremarkable. That said, there are some really powerful moments when the whole cast sings ensemble, and the music is most effective when it’s shadowing or echoing the spoken word. The staging, on John Comiskey’s industrial ramped set, is pretty impressive, but the casting is a bit hit and miss. Catherine Walker’s Phaedra is both fragile and forceful, but the object of her obsession, her stepson Hippolytus, and his love-interest Aricia are both a bit watery, despite the former being described as ‘a ride’ by Sarah Greene’s earthy and funny Ismene. Michelle Forbes as Phaedra’s treacherous companion Enone never really gels, but Stephen Brennan’s Theseus gets down and dirty as a boorish reminder of the fled Celtic Tiger. (Project, til Sun 10)

It’s December (Diciembre) and Christmas images abound in this black absurdist comedy balanced somewhere between familial and regional strife. The work of Chilean wunderkind Guillermo Calderon, who would hold that, particularly for younger generations, little has changed in Chile since the fall of Pinochet, it is set in a near future where Chile is in an apparently perpetual state of war with neighbouring Bolivia and Peru. A young soldier visits his diametrically opposed twin sisters, the one an anarchic pacifist who has meticulously planned his defection, the other a rabid patriot intent on sending him back to the front: plenty of room for ideological arguments, but one of the delicious ironies of this play is that these inevitably degenerate into rows about grammar or pronunciation. The appearance of a drunken aunt is a bit of a red herring, but overall an intriguingly edgy piece of theatre. (Project Cube, til Sun 10)

Bold, brash and in your face – that’s the 1990s as personified by Enron, the American company that invented creative accountancy and virtual energy. It’s a Thursday afternoon and the Gaiety is filled with the genteel middle classes watching a UK company make a song and dance about the resistible rise and cultural collapse of capitalism. So this is how our pensions went up in smoke, they think, as the Russian doll school of economics reveals how to hide your losses in ever-decreasing subsidiaries. Entertaining and elucidating in a noisy kind of way, but not quite what you want on a Thursday afternoon, and definitely not worth the Daily Telegraph’s 5 stars – unless of course they came from the financial pages. Meanwhile back in the real future, Anglo’s David Drumm has just filed for bankruptcy… (Gaiety, til Sat 16)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival

The city is positively awash with culture at the moment, and there’s even more on the way when the 2010 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off next Thursday 30 Sept. First the numbers: 363 performances, 31 productions from 10 countries over 18 days, and once again it's one of the rare good news bank stories - kudos to UB for staying the course. With the tag line 'Dublin Loves Drama', the big international focus this year is on contemporary Polish Theatre and Culture, POLSKI TEATR, with three fascinating high profile shows that should be very different: the legendary Krystian Lupa’s epic 7½ hour (yes, that’s 450 minutes, tho with a couple of intervals) production FACTORY 2 which revolves around the glamour of the notorious Andy Warhol Factory, blending Warhol’s own video work with improvisation and performance (9-10 Oct). Two of Lupa’s disciples are also in town; Grzegorz Jarzyna, whose thrilling Festen played at the Abbey in 2004, delves into Pasolini’s cult movie Teorema in his hypnotic and near wordless tale of seduction and destruction T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T. (1-4 Oct). Meanwhile Jan Klata, the enfant terrible of Polish Theatre, directs the anarchic THE DANTON CASE, an electrifying adaptation of a renowned Polish play set in the French Revolution, that’s picked up an impressive 25 awards worldwide (13-16 Oct). Playing a supporting role, Lost In Translation will investigate contemporary Polish culture and its relationship with Ireland in a programme featuring music, literature, film and multi-media events, including a concert to live animation by a band playing toy pianos and other very small instruments. Definitely the kind of stuff that makes a festival special.

Other international work includes CIRCA from Australia, a new creation from Galway Arts Festival favourites in their signature style that integrates formidable acrobatic circus skills and contemporary dance with state of the art sound, light and projection (30Sept -3Oct). Coming direct from an extended West End run is the hugely acclaimed Olivier Award-winning ENRON, an exuberant production using music, movement and video in a narrative of greed and loss from the tumultuous 1990s; come and see where it all went wrong (12-16 Oct). THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF HUGH HUGHES is a trio of shows from the eponymous emerging Welsh artist, a celebration of the imagination trailing rave reviews and hailed as hilarious and heartfelt (12-17 Oct). Doing something similar, and described as charming and funny, L’EFFET DE SERGE from France explores the wonder of the ordinary in a series of low-tech micro dramas (13-17 Oct). And in case it’s all getting too sweet, DICIEMBRE from Chile’s Teatro en el Blanco is a politically charged, blackly comic, razor sharp family drama about a near-future war in Chile (6-10 Oct).

There’s plenty of new Irish productions from all the leading companies. At the Gate there’s a major season of Beckett, Pinter and Mamet: Beckett’s ENDGAME features Owen Roe and David Bradley, with Barry McGovern in the world premiere staging of WATT; Wayne Jordan directs Pinter’s CELEBRATION, a post-theatrical night out, laced with dark humour and wicked satire; and Mamet’s classic comedy of manners BOSTON MARRIAGE is directed by Aoife Spillane-Hinks. (30 Sept- 17 Oct) Ibsen’s JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN is at the Abbey in a new version by Frank McGuinness. The great man falls from grace in this devastating and darkly comic play with a star-studded cast including Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Fiona Shaw (previews from 6 Oct, opens 13) Mikel Murfi directs B IS FOR BABY at the Peacock, Carmel Winter’s tender and sharp-witted take on life at a care home and the joy of make-believe (opens 30 Sept). Druid have Sean O’Casey’s THE SILVER TASSIE, directed by Garry Hynes and featuring an ensemble of 19 actors (5-10 Oct). THE REHEARSAL, PLAYING THE DANCE is Pan Pan’s idiosyncratic take on Hamlet, with actors competing to take the title role – shades of Denmark’s Got Talent? (5-10 Oct). Rough Magic’s new version of PHAEDRA responds to both Racine’s play and Rameau’s opera in a dynamic collaboration between writer Hilary Fannin and musician Ellen Cranitch. (3-10 Oct).

In another thematic strand, What Are You Looking At looks at the changing role of the audience in contemporary theatre. Belgium's Ontroerend Goed follow last year’s hit For Once and for all we’re going to tell you who we are so shut up and listen) with three immersive theatrical creations (probably not for the faint-hearted): THE SMILE OFF YOUR FACE, a one-on one blind-folded, wheelchair-bound experience of scents and sounds; INTERNAL, aiming to build a meaningful relationship with a stranger in 25 minutes; and A GAME OF YOU, where seven strangers get to know you better than you know yourself (30 Sept -17 Oct). Tim Crouch is back with THE AUTHOR, performed within the audience, telling the story of another shocking and abusive play (12-17 Oct); and upcoming Irish theatre-maker Una McKevitt’s new show 565+ follows one woman’s survival through the healing powers of theatre (30 Sept -3 Oct).

The Festival spreads its wings a bit, heading to Axis in Ballymun for Nilaja Sun’s Obie-winning NO CHILD…, an insightful and often hilarious look at New York’s public education system (13-16 Oct). And THE GIRL WHO FORGOT TO SING BADLY, featuring the wonderful Louis Lovett, visits the Civic, The Ark and Draiocht (5-15 Oct) as part of the ReViewed strand. There’s also a chance to ReView UNA SANTA OSCURA, a collaboration between composer Ian Wilson and director Tom Creed (8-10 Oct) and Beckett’s ACT WITHOUT WORDS II, a street-specific performance from Company SJ (6-9 Oct). The Ark’s FAMILY SEASON has shows from Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, and among the special events is Project Brand New’s THE MAGIC IF, one day of delving into the dreams of an array of theatre makers (Oct 16).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Culture Night

There's nothing like a bit of culture, especially when it's free, and there'll be culture to beat the band next Friday, 24 Sept. The city has been conveniently divided up into different Quarters (very European), with late night openings (many til 11pm), special events and loads of fun. There's even free buses to take you there and back. Watch this space for the best bits: visit the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery for a complimentary pint or whiskey; take part in the annual Culture Night Treasurehunt around the Francis Street galleries or lose yourself in Gospel Music at Wood Quay. Dublin Civic Trust are displaying The Irish House, a Victorian pub salvaged from Wood Quay, and you can catch Dara O'Brien playing the sitar at the Chester Beatty Library. There's musical/literary/arty fun at the Gutter Bookshop, Oxfam Books and Project, live performance and interactive installations at the Contemporary Music Centre, and sean nos singing and dancing at Gaelchultur. Filmbase is showing Irish short movies, there's a rake of pipers at Na Piobairi Uilleann, leading sculptor Michael Warren is at Hillsboro Fine Art and there's a barbeque outside the Hugh Lane. Burundi Drumming and an outdoor movie at Meeting House Square, dance classes at Dance House, poetry, prose and performance at the Pearse Centre, Scrabble in Spanish at Instituto Cervantes and Poetry Ireland's Open Mike session at the Unitarian Church. Mapping Urban Ireland is at the Royal Irish Academy, Nuala Hayes tells stories from the Tain at the National Museum, and well-known poet Tahar Bekri reads his work to music at the Alliance Francaise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This Looks Interesting

Here’s a few Fringe shows that could be well worth checking out:
The Truth of the Moon brings together writer Simon Doyle, comedian Sonya Kelly and director Sophie Motley for an illustrated lecture by fabled monologist Felicia Umbral, which might not be all that is seems. (New Theatre Tue 14-Sat 18) Kazuko Hohki’s multimedia performance piece My Husband is a Spaceman, derived from an old Japanese folktale, takes an intriguing look at cross cultural relationships. (Project Wed 15) From Toronto comes Little Illiad a live and virtual show on the theme of Homer’s lost poem, the tale of the end of the Trojan War as explored by Thom, a soldier on his way to Afghanistan. (Smock Alley Mon 20-Sat 25) Return features storyteller Polarbear, one of the UK’s leading spoken-word artists, in the universal tale of a man attempting to find out where he belongs. (Bewleys Mon 20-Fri 24)

This sounds like a sweet lunchtime show. Two highly regarded choreographers, Muirne Bloomer and Emma O’Kane get together for The Ballet Ruse, a witty dance piece about the pitfalls and pressures of ballet dancing, the battle for perfection in that sugar-coated world and the struggle from barre to bar. Design is by the always adventurous Monica Frawley. (Project til Sat 18) More dance when Fidget Feet get airborne in Hang On, a fusion of dance and gravity defying aerial circus skills. (Project Fri 17-Sun 19) And Dance in Progress at DanceHouse features A Study in Absence/A Study in Presence, a refreshing look at our perception of dance and juggling. (Tue 21-Fri 24)

There’s some edgy sonic exploration in Four on the Fringe of Folk, an Irish/Swedish collaboration featuring Caoimhin O Raghallaigh on various fiddles, Seán Óg on sax, Petter Berndalen on snare drum and some fancy footwork from Nic Gareiss. (Fringe Factory Sat 18) There’s more weird and wonderful sounds in the Icelandic Weekend (Thur 23-Sat 25), with indie electro from FM Belfast, charismatic solo songstress Olof Arnalds and the lush, ethereal soundscapes of Amiina. A Feast for St Michael and all Angels offers an experimental Evensong service at Christ Church Cathedral with the Cathedral choir. (5pm Sat 25, adm free)

Comedywise, Colm O’Grady gets seriously funny about potatoes when he takes on the famine in his satirical tragicomedy Delicious O’Grady. (Smock Alley Mon 20-Sat 25) And Jono Katz gets emotional about prickly plants in Cactus: The Seduction as he wanders hallucinating through the desert in search of true love. (New Theatre til Sat 18) Charity shopping gets personal in Help Me! Help Me! inviting you to rummage through Priscilla Robinson’s latest purchases at 3/4 Smock Alley Court (Thur 23-Sun 26) and on the same dates Dame Lane evolves into a transient community space in Laneway. And last but not least, Whiplash go to bed very late (3am, Sun 26) in Red Line Dead Line, a story of Love, Debt and the Loving Dead. The Complex, Smithfield.

Fringe Reviews

The Pajama Men: Last Stand to Reason
Absolut Fringe Factory
The Pajama Men, not surprisingly, wear pyjamas. This doesn’t really have any bearing on the show, except perhaps to suggest that they’re caught up in some kind of mad nightmare – but they’re very discreet pyjamas, and this is the North Inner City, so nobody bats an eyelid. We’re in a new Fringe venue and on opening night it’s packed – literally: chairs are so jammed together that you can’t avoid getting up close and pretty personal with complete strangers. And it’s hot… let the nightmare begin.
The Pajama Men are a likeable duo, the one a put-upon poodley type, the other a dead ringer for Fr Dougal, with an incredibly mobile face. They power their way through a show that combines manic stream of consciousness with hectic physical comedy – some very funny, and some a tad laboured – switching multiple characters at the drop of a hat, the pitch of a voice or the pull of a grin. It’s a trainride to hell, and some of it is quite bizarre – an extended riff on horse porn, for example – but there are also some real gems: the one-sided fisticuffs spring to mind, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase beating yourself up. (until Sat 25)

What the Folk!
There’s a little bit of Kerry in Temple Bar, where 4 lively members of Siamsa Tire, the National Folk Theatre, have taken up residence – literally – in 25 Eustace Street, a beautifully restored early Georgian house owned by the Landmark Trust. They welcome us into their temporary home, offer us tea and cake and we all sit down for a chat. We prefer singing and dancing to talking, they say, as they bust into razor sharp harmonies, indulge in a joyous knees-up and give us a very funny and informative demonstration of the difference between folk and competitive dancing, all the while sharing stories about the pleasures and pains of belonging to the extended Siamsa family. Absolutely charming. (until Sun 26)

Samuel Beckett Theatre
This is really gripping stuff, a Medea for our times in a powerful and lucid translation by Scottish poet Robin Robertson. Eileen Walsh is mesmerising as Medea, raw, wretched, consumed with shock and rage at her husband’s betrayal, as those around her tiptoe in the shadows, hoping to calm things down and dreading what might happen, moving at times like dancers as they weave in and out of focus. With a terrific cast, director Selina Cartmell works her magic to make all the extraneous elements gel in this absolutely compelling production, from Paul O’Mahony’s two-tier set with its little rooms laid out like a story book, to the sharp-edged lighting, subtle choreography and occasional moments of freeze-frame, while the natural ease of those two little brothers (Levi and Isaac O’Sullivan) compounds the intensity of the drama that surrounds them. And boy is this intense – so much so that you almost feel the final confrontation between Medea and Jason might have been better left unsaid. But all in all a vivid and thrilling show. (until Sat 25)

Delicious O'Grady
Smock Alley
This got a stinking review in the Irish Times, which probably says more about the reviewer than the show. Having got a taster of this one-man famine skit as part of Project Brand New, I was happy to go back for more. Granted, there are flaws, some of the material is pretty weak, especially at the start, and some of the characterisations are a bit thin, but stick with it and you’ll be treated to some very funny stuff, as well as clever use of video projections, not to mention O’Grady’s impressive acrobatic skills. Colm O’Grady’s humour mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, but 1 star? And The Pajama Men got 5????? (until Sat 25)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dublin Fringe Festival

If it’s September it must be Fringe time, and sure enough the Absolut Dublin Fringe Festival is just around the corner, 16 days of madness – how about an escaped Zoo, men in Pajamas, 50 naked women and a dancing minotaur for starters – running from Sept 11-26. Theatre, dance, comedy, visual & performance art, and the Absolut Fringe Factory, home to a scintillating music programme including wildly entertaining American performers Taylor Mac and YouTube sensation Miranda Sings; an eclectic Irish Music weekend which featuring Fringe favourite Camille O’Sullivan, a Pocket Jazz festival and Four on the Fringe of Folk; and an Icelandic Weekend of Music featuring Amiina, Ólöf Arnalds and FM Belfast.
Galway’s Macnas are back in town for the opening weekend with a large scale and typically flamboyant outdoor spectacle. Comedy headliners the Pajama Men are in for the duration with their high energy Last Stand to Reason, a hurricane of off-the-wall physical and verbal comedy. On the theatre front, a new show from Siren Productions gives us a contemporary and visceral take on a timeless classic, a new translation by Scottish poet Robin Robertson of Euripides’ Medea, directed by Selina Cartmell. There’s 3 new shows from ambitious young collective Theatreclub, and Ponydance will be out and about with their new show Anybody Waitin’? The Company take on the mammoth task of looking at Joyce’s Ulysses as a template for Irish identity in As you are now so once were we.
The Show In A Bag project features some of Ireland’s best loved actors performing new works created especially for them by playwright Gavin Kostick. In the dance strand there’s Muirne Bloomer & Emma O’Kane’s The Ballet Ruse, Emma Martin’s Listowel Syndrome and double bills from the likes of Fidget Feet. In Berlin Love Tour, Playgroup bring you on a guided tour of Berlin – on the streets of Dublin, and Delicious O’Grady brings you a story of love, loss and potatoes in a one-man tragicomedy set in the time of the Famine.
International work includes the bizarre sounding JERK, a reconstruction of the horrific crimes and murders of young boys in 1970’s Texas using glove puppets. Nic Green’s Trilogy, a runaway hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, is a celebration/interrogation of the joys and complexities of being a woman today, the first part ending with a high energy naked dance performed by some 50 volunteers.
Check it all out@

RTE National Symphony Orchestra

There’s some tasty concerts coming up from the RTE NSO when they start their new season at the NCH on Fri 10 Sept. The opening concert kicks off with Jump Up!, a welcoming Fanfare for new Principal Conductor Alan Buribayev, and features acclaimed pianist Simon Trpceski in Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 4. Fri 17 has a Latin American flavour, with accordionist James Crabb playing Piazzolla’s Concierto de Aconcagua, and there’s also Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. A new late night short concert slot (10pm) sees James Crabb and RTE NSO Principals in a Tangos Recital – a fiver in or free with the main concert ticket. On Fri 24 pianist Barry Douglas directs the NSO from the keyboard in Brahms Piano Concerto No 1 and conducts the Mussorgksy/Ravel Pictures at an Exhibition.
October kicks off with a concert of music inspired by dance, juxtaposing Ravel’s Shéhérazade and La Valse with John Adams’ Guide to Strange Places and The Chairman Dances. Fri 8 has Michael Tippett’s Fantasia and Beethoven’s Eroica, conducted by Kenneth Montgomery. Bach’s Mass in B Minor has pride of place on Fri 15 with the RTE Philharmonic Choir and soloists, and a late night concert features Finghin Collins and NSO Principal Winds in Mozart’s Piano and Wind Quintet. On Fri 22 John Finucane directs and is soloist in Mozart’s sublime Clarinet Concerto, also conducting Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier suite and Dance of the Seven Veils, and you can hear more Stauss – Don Quichotte – alongside Debussy and Ravel on Fri 29.

Guna Nua

Guna Nua are heading out on the road with the world premiere of Chicane, which opens at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght on Sept 4 and tours to Draiocht in Blanchardstown, the Everyman in Cork, the Belltable in Limerick and the Mill Theatre in Dundrum. This is the first play by well known Irish actor Anthony Brophy, probably most familiar for his long-running portrayal of Eustache Chapuys in The Tudors. He’s gone for something of a thriller: ‘Packed with suspense, violence and deceit, Chicane treads a tightrope of revenge and redemption, a who-done-it with surprises lurking around every corner. Ultimately, however twisted, it is a story of love and loyalty.’ Heady stuff then. Paul Meade directs, and Barry Barnes, Jane McGrath and Emmet Kirwan make up the twisted trio.


Fritz Lang's epic and extraordinary silent movie Metropolis gets a rare screening with live orchestral accompaniment at the NCH on Sat 4 Sept. Lang’s sci-fi masterpiece has been seen in Dublin before – I remember a fascinating outdoor screening in Temple Bar back in the 90s – but this is the first time since its 1927 release that the full uncut movie will be shown. Against the director’s wishes, the original version was cut by a quarter, and the excised footage was presumed lost. Until, in one of those fairytale moments of movie history, several dusty reels were discovered in a small museum in Buenos Aires in 2008. It’s now been painstakingly restored and was premiered earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival, with a newly adapted score for Salon Orchestra based on the original 1927 score. There’s also an accompanying season at the IFI of Lang's other work alongside some science fiction classics that he influenced.

Six Strings for Two Heels

Get those hands clapping and those heels clicking for a vibrant splash of flamenco at the Helix on 3 & 4 Sept. Six Strings for Two Heels, which premiered in June at the annual Flamenco Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, features virtuoso composer and guitarist Juan Antonio Suárez ‘Cano’ and award-winning dancer and choreographer Concha Jareño, two of Spain's most highly regarded artists. More info@

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Irish Composers Collective

The Irish Composers Collective are back in the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room on 31 Aug with a concert by renowned Balkan band Yurodny. On the programme are premieres of the latest works by DE McCarthy, Francis Heery, Matthew Whiteside, Amanda Feery, Dennis Wyers and Yurodny’s own Adrian Hart. ,

The Lily Lally Show

Veteran actor Barbara Brennan reprises her much acclaimed role in Hugh Leonard’s touching and funny one-woman play The Lily Lally Show in a new lunchtime production for Bewley’s, directed by Mark O’Halloran. First staged at the Abbey in 1994, Brennan plays Mary Moone, Ireland's one-time Queen of Comedy, who finds herself auditioning for a mysterious unseen observer alone on the set of the Ballybeyond Railway Hotel. Recalling her extraordinary journey in showbiz, from lowly beginnings at The Five Lamps to her glorious comic partnership with Jack Looby, the ‘Napoleon of Variety’, she revisits her old routines, remembers the great characters of a lost era and reflects upon a life of bittersweet extremes. Previews 23 Aug, opens Wed 25 til Sat 11 Sept.

A Dream Play

The National Youth Theatre takes over the Peacock stage from Mon 23 Aug (previews) til Sat 28 for Caryl Churchill’s version of August Strindberg’s A Dream Play. Jimmy Fay directs the 16-strong cast in one of Strindberg’s most influential plays, written in 1901 in the midst of a mental breakdown, a surreal experiment which aimed to imitate the form of a dream. Caryl Churchill said of her 2005 version: ‘I’m not sure how I’d feel if someone treated one of my plays the way I’ve treated Strindberg’s. I’d like to think he’d be glad about this version. I’d like to make him smile. But maybe he’d say, Oh woe. Life is wretched.’

Music in the Historic Quarter

The streets are alive with the sound of… the latest offering from the Contemporary Music Centre. Running from 21 Aug to 1 Sept, Music in the Historic Quarter is an outdoor music trail and a series of mostly free events around the older and more interesting parts of the city, including St Audoen’s Church, the Civic Offices Amphitheatre, Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedrals, The Back Loft, City Hall, The Coach House and Smock Alley Theatre. The music trail features works by Irish composers, among them Ian Wilson, Kevin Volans, Donnacha Dennehy and Judith Ring, playing at 5 outdoor locations – some of which require a compatible smartphone. The Rawstorne Singers are at Christ Church Cathedral for Choral Evensong most evenings, Daoiri Farrell and Friends are at St Audoen’s on 21 Aug, on 26 there’s Don Giovanni at the Civic Offices at lunchtime and Stuart Nicholson gives his Starwars and Rude Noises organ recital at St Patrick’s Cathedral. On 27 Anuna are at the The Back Loft and you can hear the Bell Ringers at Christ Church. Dublin Guitar Quartet are at City Hall lunchtime on 28, Music Network present Paudie O Connor on box & Aoife Ni Chaoimh on fiddle at the Coach House, Dublin Castle on 31, and ConTempo Quartet play Smock Alley on 1 Sept. More info and reservations@

Friday, August 13, 2010


The Focus Theatre, possibly Dublin’s smallest theatre, is open again after a spot of refurbishment, bringing a much-loved and much-needed performance space back into circulation. Playing at the moment is Frank McGuinness’s one-woman play Baglady, directed by Caroline Fitzgerald and featuring Maria McDermottroe, which runs til Sat 21. Previewing from Tue 24 and opening on Mon 30, Joe Devlin directs the premiere of Elizabeth Moynihan’s play TIC, a Gothic tale of love and sexual politics set in Ireland in the 1890s and revolving around a woman with Tourette’s syndrome. And shows coming up include Dennis Kelly’s Orphans in October, the European premiere of Jason Wells’ Men of Tortuga in November, and Mary McEvoy in David Lordan’s Jo Bangles in December.

RTE Concert Orchestra

The RTE Concert Orchestra are having a pretty busy month at the NCH, with Fri evening and Tue lunchtime concerts. Fri 13 & Sat 14 sees the (once) gorgeous Anthony Andrews (remember him, the teddybear-clutching Sebastian of Brideshead Revisited?) taking on the role of Prof Henry Higgins in a concert version of My Fair Lady, with a starry cast that also includes the likes of Julian Ovenden of Foyle’s War/The Royal fame. Legendary French film composer Michel Legrand multitasks as conductor, pianist and singer in an evening of his classic movie music on Fri 20. Russell Watson, ‘the People’s Tenor’, reschedules his ash cloud cancellation on Sun 22; and the music of Bill Whelan is celebrated by an all-singing, dancing and playing cast including Julie Feeney, Zoe Conway and Declan Masterson on Fri 27.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Colleen Bawn

Project are doing something a bit different this summer: a six week run of Dion Boucicault's The Colleen Bawn (until 4 September) which then tours to the Civic Theatre in Tallaght, Draiocht in Blanchardstown, the George Bernard Shaw in Carlow and the Everyman in Cork. Land, greed, class, religion and sexual desire are all in the mix in this classic Irish drama written in 1860, the story of a family in crisis where the importance of love is outweighed by the lure of financial gain. By turn dark, impassioned and exhilarating, you can expect some high energy from this Bedrock production, directed by Jimmy Fay.

Get Naked with Fringe

It could be all that sunshine has gone to our heads, but what with last month’s Dip in the Nip way out west, it looks like getting naked is the new black. Now Dublin Fringe Festival (of which more anon) has come up with another chance to bare it all: ‘Women of all ages, backgrounds, shapes, sizes, levels of fitness and ability are sought to perform naked in an ensemble dance celebrating the female form, as part of Nic Green’s extraordinary, multi award winning show Trilogy as part of this year’s ABSOLUT Fringe.’ A runaway hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the first part of this celebration/interrogation of the joys and complexities of being a woman today ends with a high energy naked dance performed by the volunteers. Evening workshops take place in the week leading up to the show (which runs from Sept 22-25) including an initial (fully clothed) meeting to discuss everything over tea and cake. Lyn Gardner’s review for The Guardian said: “Trilogy is angry, joyous, heartfelt, rigorous and radiant with hope. It makes you want to fling off your clothes and dance.” So what are you waiting for? More info on how to take part from,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Festival of World Cultures

The timing always seemed perfect – that last weekend in August when you hadn’t quite given up hope on the summer; the music was great and the weather was always kind (ah, nostalgia…) But now 10 years on, the dlr Festival of World Cultures is moving to a new slot in late July (23-25), allowing it to tap in more effectively to the international touring circuit. One of the world’s top 25 International Music Festivals, according to Songlines Magazine, this 3 day multi-arts, multi-cultural fiesta brings a real buzz to normally sedate Dun Laoghaire, as over 800 artists from 33 countries take part in 180 events – most of them free. Headliners include legendary Algerian King of Raï, Khaled; former Sigur Rós string section Amiina; Beninese voodoo funk sensationsOrchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou; rising Malian star Rokia Traoré; and creative revolutionaryJah Wobble with his new project The Nippon Dub Ensemble. And among the special 10th Anniversary events are Homeland a collaboration between 4 fascinating world voices – Iarla Ó Lionáird, Tanya Tagaq and duo Adjágas; dancing in the streets with the Birthday Bloco Carnival;and Radio Hemisphere, the festival’s first internet radio. Loads more besides, check it all

National Chamber Choir

The National Chamber Choir give the world premiere of a new work by renowned South African-born Irish composer Kevin Volans in the Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle on Thur 22. Canciones del Alma – Songs for the Soul – was commissioned by Elizabeth Chatwin, widow of the celebrated British author Bruce Chatwin (whose brilliant The Songlines I’ve just finished re-reading) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his death. It will be performed alongside renaissance masterpieces from Spain, Portugal and Italy, including Monteverdi’s Magnificat, in a programme conducted by Paul Hillier and appropriately entitled Walking Home. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo on Fri 23, the same concert will be repeated FREE (but ticketed - 094 9024444).

The Plough and the Stars

There’s more classic theatre coming up at the Abbey, with Sean O’Casey’s masterpiece The Plough and the Stars previewing from Wed 21 and opening on Tue 26. Set against the backdrop of the Easter Rising and written a mere 10 years after those momentous events, it’s a play that has graced the Abbey stage many times, but this time around upcoming young director Wayne Jordan, who greatly impressed as director of Tom Kilroy’s recent Christ Deliver Us should give things a fresh perspective. The large cast includes the likes of Barry Ward, Cathy Belton, Denise Gough, Frankie McCafferty, Gabrielle Reidy, Joe Hanley, Karl Quinn, Laurence Kinlan, Natalie Radmall-Quirke and Peter Hanley.

Slattery's Sago Saga

Always on the lookout for something different, The Performance Corporation take over historic Rathfarnham Castle from Fri 16 to Sun 25 for their latest show Slattery’s Sago Saga, adapted by Arthur Riordan (of Improbable Frequency fame) from the unfinished novel by the late great Flann O’Brien. One part carnival, one part surreal (of course) satire, Tim Hartigan’s quiet life at Poguemahone Hall is shattered with the arrival of a Scottish woman with an evil plan, not to mention the chaos surrounding a politically correct leprechaun, a beautiful typist and a tycoon TD bent on bankrupting the country. Sounds like fun. Jo Mangan directs a terrific cast including Malcolm Adams, Clare Barrett, Darragh Kelly, Lisa Lambe and Louis Lovett.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Death of a Salesman

Another big name takes to the Gate stage in Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Death of a Salesman. Heading the cast as Willy Loman is American film and stage actor Harris Yulin – you mightn’t know the name but you’ll definitely recognise the face: he first popped up in 1983 as crooked cop Mel Bernstein in Scarface, and has since appeared in many big-budget movies such as Clear and Present Danger, Ghostbusters II and Training Day, and on the small screen in the likes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Entourage and Frasier. Other familiar (Irish) faces in the cast include Stephen Brennan, Deirdre Donnelly, John Kavanagh, Barry McGovern, Elizabeth Moynihan, Rory Nolan and Stephen Swift, and heading the creative team is American director David Esbjornson. Previews from Thur 15 and opens Tue 20.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer in the City

Things get swinging this weekend (8-11 July) with Temple Bar’s Summer Sensational festival (don’t know about that name tho). Lots of (mostly) free stuff to do in the city come rain or shine – the Contemporary Music Centre is inviting you to Play With Music – two interactive multimedia installations: Dioneye, which distorts the participants’ images while using their movements to generate different sounds; and Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd, which exploits the multiple sound interactions of people as they sit on a park bench. There’s also circus and storytelling including a live Where’s Wally?; sean-nos singing and dancing workshops (that should be fun); a Dance Social with Coisceim; music including Julie Feeney and Balkanarama; a whole rake of short movies at various venues courtesy of Filmbase; a family festival at the IFI; and Movies on the Square including Stand by Me, Dirty Dancing and Jaws.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More June

The RTE National Symphony Orchestra may have finished their subscription season but they haven’t quite gone on their hols yet. Instead they’re doing a series of Musical Postcards at the NCH Tue lunchtime and Fri evenings (start time 7.30pm). Among the more interesting are a taste of Bohemia on Fri 25 with Smetana’s Vlatava and Dvorak’s Cello Concerto; Copland and Gershwin on Fri 2 July including Gershwin’s Piano Concerto; Grieg’s Norwegian and Symphonic Dances on Tue 6; Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1 on Fri 16; Mozart’s Concerto for Flute & Harp and Beethoven’s Symphony No 1 on Fri 23; and choral group Anuna with music from the 15th to the 21st century on Fri 30.

There’s French music from the National Chamber Choir at Smock Alley’s Banquet Hall on Sun 27 June – or if you want to travel further afield, in Navan on Fri 25 and Carlingford on Sat 26. Conducted by the choir’s Artistic Director Paul Hillier, who was founding director of the famous Hilliard Ensemble, the programme revolves around love, birds and war, with a cappella songs by Janequin, Poulenc and Debussy.

An interesting programme from the Irish Baroque Orchestra at Christ Church Cathedral on Sat 26 June pits the young Mozart against the more mature Haydn. Young Progidy / Old Master features Mozart’s Gallimathius Musicum, written when he was just ten, and his slightly later Bassoon Concerto (with IBO and Scottish Chamber Orchestra principal Peter Whelan), along with Haydn’s Symphony No 60, written when Haydn was in his 40s.

Tall Tales are at Project from June 29 (preview) with the world premiere of BogBoy, a new play by Deirdre Kinahan that echoes with the fate of the ‘disappeared’ from 1970s Northern Ireland. Set in contemporary Co. Meath, it interweaves the stories of three people who themselves have disappeared through the cracks of Irish society - a young boy from Belfast, a struggling Dublin heroin addict and a reclusive local farmer. Shifting timelines reveal deep friendship, violent murder and unforgivable deceit, as well as a ‘gloriously comic’ clash of contemporary Irish rural/urban culture. Jo Mangan (of The Performance Corporation) directs and the cast includes Steve Blount, Damian Devaney, Emmett Kirwan and Mary Murray.