Monday, March 29, 2010


What is it about Macbeth that holds such a fascination for us? Shakespeare’s best-known villain, a power-hungry megalomaniac who, egged on by a greedy and ambitious wife, destroyed his country for personal aggrandisement (actually, that sounds a bit familiar), has a habit of turning up on the cultural agenda in one form or another. Last year Opera Ireland gave us Verdi’s version; the year before Siren Productions spiced things up with Lady M as a seductive older woman and George Higgs created his Bed of Macbeth installation; and before that again the 2007 Dublin Theatre Festival brought us a deconstructed Radio Macbeth. Macbeth hasn’t been a stranger on the Abbey stage either (Cyril Cusack played Malcolm in the 1934 production) although it’s over 14 years since its most recent outing. Now it’s back in a muscular new production, previewing from tomorrow (30 March) and opening on Wed 7 April. Directed by Jimmy Fay, it takes on the desperate hues of Cromwellean Ireland as it lays bare the darkest side of human nature. Featuring the powerful duo of Aidan Kelly and Eileen Walsh in the leading roles, the large cast also includes Andrea Irvine, John Kavanagh, Michael McElhatton, Rory Nolan and Karl Shiels.

Ergodos Festival MMX

A mini festival of new music at Project this weekend (2&3 April) courtesy of contemporary music bods Ergodos has the concept of optimism (currently a much needed quality) at its core. “In spite of the hardships of our time, there is much to celebrate, much that is beautiful, much to give us hope, and much to be done,” say Ergodos Festival MMX directors Garrett Sholdice
and Benedict Schlepper-Connolly. The first concert, Another Generation, juxtaposes the music of JS Bach with John Cage, Simon O’Connor Jonathan Nangle et al, while the second, The Sun Also Rises, is a work for film and music by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly and David Tynan.

Dublin Dance Festival

Times might be tight but the 6th Dublin Dance Festival looks to be dancing on air, what with the smashing programme they’ve put together for this year’s festival (May 8–23). Over two weeks of dazzling dance from far flung Australia, Canada and the US, and closer to home, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and of course Ireland, with high profile international figures such as Germany’s Raimund Hoghe who gives the festival’s centrepiece performance, legendary US choreographer Yvonne Rainer and flamenco dancer extraordinaire Soledad Barrio featuring alongside dynamic new European and Irish works. The festival is framed by what will undoubtedly be two very popular events, the free Bumper 2 Bumper headphone disco in Meeting House Square and the powerful, passionate and earthy dance of Noche Flamenco in Vicar Street, and there’s also workshops and a kids’ programme. Watch this space.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Music

Irish contemporary music from the Irish Composers Collective in the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room tonight (Mon 22). Violinist Cora Venus Lunny and cellist Kate Ellis play works by ICC composers including Glen Austin’s The Shaman’s Dance and Dave Flynn’s Between the Jigs and the Reels. Meanwhile the Centre for Creative Practices is presenting a series with a difference: Components features new works by Irish composers that are being developed over the course of six Sunday concerts. The next concert on 28 March features Dan Bodwell on double bass. Cellist Kate Ellis takes up the strand on 11 April, David Bremner follows up on Fender Rhodes Piano on 18 April and the final concert on 25 April features Cathal Roche on saxophones.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sodome, My Love

A lot of the time this new show from Rough Magic almost feels like an art installation – and that’s not a complaint, because it is quite wonderful to look at. Starting with a blacked out stage, the curtain is slowly cranked up to reveal a mesmerising structure of angled mirrors, dark but for the swirling of headlights as a silent city speeds by. And in the middle of it all a solitary figure, at first barely there, but slowly beginning to speak, then move a little, gradually gaining strength and stature as she comes back to life to unravel the myth and ultimately wreak her revenge. She is the last daughter of Sodome, the ancient city of joy and excess long since destroyed by treachery and disease, and her story is fascinating, told in a language that is richly poetic and bursting with imagery.

This is a powerful, absorbing and deeply affecting performance from Olwen Fouere, whose commanding stage presence never falters, holding the audience spellbound while around her the lighting and reflections slowly change as the mood of her tale grows darker. All the more surprising then that the ending is so unsatisfactory, the portrayal of her revenge – a surfeit of hedonistic celebrity – so shallow and unsubtle. A pity, given the many-layered possibilities of all that has gone before. Until Sat 27 March

Philadelphia Here I Come!

It’s a real pleasure to see this play again. Such is the quality of Friel’s writing and his theatrical vision that it still resonates with a sense of freshness and immediacy as it delves deep beneath the surface of 1960s rural village life, finding both a delicious humour and a tragic irony in the longing to escape and the aching need to stay. This is a pretty straightforward interpretation, a classic production you might say – director Dominic Dromgoole doesn’t take any risks, but then he doesn’t have to, the playwright has already done it all with his potent device of splitting the main protagonist into two separate individuals, public and private, and thereby allowing the voicing of all those chaotic inner thoughts and feelings. And while the long shadow of emigration creates obvious parallels, the real impetus here is the painful lack of communication and real human contact that casts the characters adrift – the taciturn father, the sharp-tongued housekeeper, the loquacious aunt from America, and that perfect set-piece, The Boys, forever stuck in the bravado of adolescence.

I wasn’t entirely mad about the set, which although perfectly adequate, cuts the height of the Gaiety stage in two, boxing it in with a pastiche of pastel – perhaps as a suggestion of claustrophobia. But the acting is terrific, with Tom Vaughan Lawlor leading the fray as Gar Private, weaving in and out of the action with a remarkable display of mental and physical agility. Until Sat 10 April

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jigs & Reels & Drums

Things are going to get pretty noisy at the NCH over the next few days. First up are Kodo, the internationally renowned Japanese drum ensemble who’ll be drumming up a storm on Sun 14 March as part of their European One Earth Tour. Our own Kilfenora Ceili Band take to the stage on Tues 16 for a lively foot-tapping session of traditional Irish jigs, reels and polkas, with dancing honours going to Michael Donnellan, 4-times World Irish Dance Champion and one-time Riverdancer. And on the great day itself, Wed 17 March, St Patrick’s Festival presents A Celebration of Irish Voices, featuring the brilliant Donal Lunny and two of Ireland’s leading choirs from the Sean-Nos tradition, Cor Taobh A’Leitheid, led by Dominic Mac Giolla Bhride, and Peadar O Riada’s Cor Cul Aodh.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Tinker's Curse

The lunchtime offerings at Bewleys Café Theatre have been pretty good over the last while, and their next show, in association with Focus Theatre, looks like continuing the trend. It comes from the pen of Michael Harding, who will be familiar to many as the author of that pleasingly lugubrious weekly Irish Times column concerning the ins and outs of life around Mullingar. Harding is also a well-known playwright, whose credits from the '80s and '90s include plays such as Una Pooka, Misogynist and Sour Grapes at the Abbey and Peacock. This latest show, which he also performs, is a newly adapted version of his 2007 play The Tinker’s Curse, a wry, humorous and moving tale about a traveller who climbs Croagh Patrick to do penance for the sins of a lifetime, revealing in the process the joys and sorrows of life on the side of the road. Previews Mon 15 March and opens Tues 16.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Tues 16 looks like being a busy night for Project, with another opening, Manchan Magan’s Broken Croi/Heart Briste, a surprise bilingual hit at last year’s Fringe and a nominee for Fishamble, Bewley’s and Irish Theatre Awards. Magan (of TG4 travel fame) takes to the stage with the diminutive Eva O’Connor, the latter as a self-loathing dancer and the former as a kilt-clad fanatical Gaeilgeoir, for a language lesson that veers from slapstick to acrimony in a funny and heartfelt look at fractured relationships. Tom Creed directs.

Sodome, my love

A new show from Rough Magic is always worth waiting for, and this latest production looks particularly interesting. It’s the world premiere of Sodome, my love by French playwright Laurent Gaude, the first time his work has been performed in Ireland, and it features the excellent Olwen Fouere, an actor known for her vibrancy and integrity, not to mention her ability to take on challenging roles. She plays the last daughter of the notorious city of Sodome, a place once synonymous with freedom and sensuality (or evil and debauchery depending on your viewpoint) before it was cruelly destroyed. Now centuries later a downpour awakens the sole survivor, who emerges salt-caked and defiant to unravel the myth. Fouere doubles up as both performer and translator, with a top notch creative team headed up by director Lynne Parker, with design by Monica Frawley, lighting by John Comiskey and sound by Denis Clohessy. Laurent Gaude was awarded France’s most prestigious literary honour the Prix Goncourt for his epic novel Le Soleil des Scorta, published in the UK and US as ‘The House of Scorta’. Sodome, my love previews at Project from Fri 12 March and opens on Tues 16. Gaude will give a talk (also @Project) on Sat 20 as part of the second annual Journées de la Francophonie.,


Impresario Noel Pearson is back in town with a new production of Brian Friel’s early masterpiece Philadelphia, Here I Come!, which was first staged way back in 1964 at the Gaiety Theatre. In a nice touch of serendipity, this latest production is also at the Gaiety, where it’s currently in preview and opens on Mon 15 March. It’s a timely revival of the play that made Friel’s name on the international stage, with the notion of emigration once again rearing its thorny head, as young Gar O’Donnell – ingeniously portrayed by two actors as Gar Public and Gar Private – is torn between the pros and cons of making the break. Rich in humour and nuance, at its core is the heartbreaking inability to communicate that has stifled generations of young and old. The director is Dominic Dromgoole (what a great name), artistic director of the Globe Theatre, who was head of London’s Bush Theatre during the ‘90s when the likes of Billy Roche, Conor McPherson and Sebastian Barry were finding their feet there. He has put together a fascinating cast including Brid Brennan, Alan Devlin, Gerry McSorley, Barry McGovern, Marion O’Dwyer, Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Andrew Bennett among others.