Thursday, April 29, 2010

Project Brand New

14 plays over 3 nights – that’s Project Brand New, a snapshot of what’s up and coming in the world of live performance. For a mere fiver you could be in at the start of the next big thing as established and emerging artists try out their latest work in progress. Previous shows that went on to greater things include the likes of Victor and Gord and Cirque de Légume, and this time around there’s everything from the latest in interactive digital technology to a rock musical about punks, as well as video sniffing, the choreography of secrets, a tragi-comedy set in the time of the Famine and a performance based on text messages. Something of a lucky dip, it all begins tonight Thur 29 April and runs until Sat 1 May.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

RTE National Symphony Orchestra

The dynamic William Eddins is back in town to conduct an all-American programme with the RTE NSO at the NCH on Fri 30 April. First off is the European premiere of Owls, a new piece by Andre Previn. Philip Martin is the soloist in Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, and mezzo Fiona Murphy & baritone Owen Gilhooly join the RTE Philharmonic Choir for Hindemith’s setting of Walt Whitman’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. There’s the world premiere of a new work by Jennifer Walshe on Fri 7 May, along with Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6 (Pathetique); Brahms, Dvorak and Beethoven (Symphony No 7) on Fri 14, with Arabella Steinbacher the soloist in Dvorak’s Violin Concerto; a Viennese evening on Fri 21 with Schubert (Unfinished), Berg, Mozart and Schoenberg’s Verklarte Nacht. The NSO’s final concert of the season is on Fri 28, a great mix of Mozart, Beethoven and Berlioz. François-Frédéric Guy is the soloist in Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto, and the whole shebang comes to a dramatic end with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique.

Dun Laoghaire - Life in the Day

An interesting show coming up at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire on Fri 30 April. Dun Laoghaire - Life in the Day is a collaboration between jazz composer and bass player Ronan Guilfoyle, and musician and broadcaster Ellen Cranitch. Presented by dl Arts, it takes the form of a silent movie, filmed by Cranitch in and around Dun Laoghaire, that documents the ordinary day-to day life of this historic seaside town, with Guilfoyle’s specially composed score performed live by dlr Jazz Ensemble Metier. Guilfoyle, who’s lived all his life in the borough, celebrates his stomping ground through this evocative mingling of film, composition and improvisation.

Gambon at the Gate

One of the most memorable pieces of theatre I have ever seen, and probably the most affecting piece of Beckett I have ever experienced, was a production of Eh Joe as part of the Gate Theatre’s Beckett Festival in 2006. Originally written for television, it was adapted and directed by Atom Egoyan and featured two remarkable actors, Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon – her unseen voice, his larger than life, silent stage presence. As the voice taunts him with unsavoury details of his past life in a relentless, devastating narrative, his great face crumples, bit by bit, every tic and nuance mercilessly enlarged and laid bare on a giant video screen. An extraordinary performance. Now Gambon is back at the Gate for more Beckett, the classic Krapp’s Last Tape, a brilliant study of memory and regret, with its bananas and lampshades and spool upon spool of personal history. Taking on the role of Krapp, Gambon follows in some illustrious footsteps – Patrick Magee starred in the original production at the Royal Court back in 1958, while both David Kelly and John Hurt featured in more recent productions at the Gate. Michael Colgan directs. Krapp previews on Wed 28 and opens on Thur 29 April.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Habit of Art

A new play by Alan Bennett is definitely something to savour, even if it is on the big screen as opposed to the stage. This latest collaboration between the Dublin Theatre Festival and the IFI brings us The Habit of Art, live via satellite from London's National Theatre, as part of NT Live, which broadcasts live plays onto cinema screens around the world. It's at the IFI on Thur 22 April @6.45pm and it features Richard Griffiths, Alex Jennings and Francis de la Tour. Here's what the press release says:
Benjamin Britten (Alex Jennings), sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden (Richard Griffiths). During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by, amongst others, their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station. Alan Bennett’s new play looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Two concerts coming up in the NewSoundWorlds Spring Series at the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room. On Tue 20 April (ash cloud permitting) New York based pianist Isabelle O’Connell plays a programme built around George Crumb’s masterful Makrokosmos. Violinist Darragh Morgan teams up with pianist John Tilbury on Tue 4 May for 80 minutes of Morton Feldman’s iconic For John Cage. And if Feldman’s mesmeric music grabs your imagination, check out the current exhibition at Imma, Vertical Thoughts: Morton Feldman and the Visual Arts. Meanwhile the Irish Composers Collective are at the NCH on Mon 26 April with new music by David Bremner, Amanda Feery, Richard Gill, Bill Mc Grath, Emma O’ Halloran and Dylan Rynhart, performed by clarinetist Paul Roe and guitarist Philip Lawson.

The Birthday of the Infanta

Bewley's lunchtime, til Sat 8 May
The short stories of Oscar Wilde are written as if for children – fairy tales, if you like – but at their core is a clear recognition of the harshness of reality. The Birthday of the Infanta
, from the collection A House of Pomegranates, is one such bittersweet tale that throws together two very different experiences of childhood. It is, as the title suggests, the 12th birthday of the King of Spain’s daughter (a spoilt lonely child whose father spends most of his time pining for his dead wife) and various exotic treats have been organized for her entertainment, but the one that pleases her most is the outlandish dancing of a young dwarf who has been plucked from the forest by the King’s huntsmen. Impulsively she throws him a rose, and he becomes convinced that she loves him – until he catches sight for the first time of his own grotesque reflection. Adapted and directed by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh, this is an endearing if undemanding piece of theatre, the cast of three playing multiple roles, but each bringing something special to their main characters - Jill Murphy as the self-centred Infanta; Natalie Radmall Quirke as her exasperated lady-in-waiting; and Oscar Hernandez Rodriguez as the open-hearted dwarf.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love:live music

Tomorrow Fri 16 is Ireland’s first National Music Day, with free live music filling various nooks and crannies around the country. Love:live music’s big Dublin event is a concert of traditional Irish music at the Button Factory featuring a rake of top notch musicians including the quintet of Slide, the trio of Fidil and the duo of Brendan Begley & Caoimhín O Raghallaigh (free but ticketed). The National Youth Orchestra are at Airfield in Dundrum and composer George Higgs takes to the highways and byways on his Joculator or musical bike. The Contemporary Music Centre launches their new outdoor Sound Gallery Off the Rails at 19 Fishamble Street, featuring music by composers such as Kevin Volans, Donnacha Dennehy, Jennifer Walshe, Ian Wilson, Roger Doyle and more. There’s lots of other stuff including workshops, talks etc – one of the more unusual is Harps on the Bridge, a gathering of 24 harpers who will perform on the beautiful harp-like Samuel Beckett bridge from 12.45pm. Check it all out@

And it mightn’t be free but it’s well worth your few euros (there’s still some seats left for a tenner and the max price is €30) when the brilliant Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky takes to the NCH stage tomorrow night with the RTE NSO for Brahms’ mighty Second Piano Concerto, coupled with another biggie, Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. Ash Cloud Update: Berezovsky is grounded, so Finghin Collins, who recently performed the Brahms No 2 with the Ulster Orchestra, is stepping into the breach.,

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Abbey Theatre, til Sat 15 May
Jimmy Fay’s production of the Scottish Play aspires to offer us something of an Irish dimension – an interesting proposition, but one that gets a bit (ahem) bogged down, and while the paganistic sounds emanating from the witches mouths at the start of the play could definitely be part of some ancient Irish druidic ritual, the clunky Cromwellian costumes don’t lend much to the proceedings. Added to this a set which, for the first few minutes, sees the cast clambering over a sort of mud pile to get out on stage, and you could say that this show has the odds stacked against it. But it is, of course, a terrific play, and even though it’s very familiar there are times when the language just reaches out and grabs you, and there are scenes which you could swear you’ve never seen before.

Traditionally Macbeth is portrayed as a great man gone to the bad, but Aidan Kelly’s Macbeth never seems to reach those heights; rather he comes across as someone who has bitten off way more than he can chew, a bit of a gombeen man even – an apt enough parallel given the times we’re in, but unfortunately one that is not convincing on stage, particularly when set beside Eileen Walshe’s performance as his lady wife, passionate, consuming and gut-wrenching. There’s plenty of action, even some nifty sword-fighting, and the large cast get well into the spirit of things, but it somehow doesn’t all quite gel. Staging some of some of the scenes shadow-like behind a raised, back-lit screen is a clever device, but it’s also a bit alienating. The lighting though is superb – murky and malevolent, a dark and gloomy underworld.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who is Fergus Kilpatrick?

Another Fringe show gets a new lease of life at Project, opening on Wed 14 April (preview Tues 13) and running til Sat 24. Winner of last year’s Spirit of The Fringe Award, Who is Fergus Kilpatrick? tells the story of a long lost Irish hero whose actions shaped the fate of a nation – or did they? A show devised by 5 TCD-trained actors, aka The Company, who together direct, design, produce and stage their own work, it uses video and live performance to playfully dissect the line between truth and lies in our nation's past, asking awkward questions such as, who are the heroes and who are the traitors? and what happens when we stop pretending?
Verdict: It’s actually much more fun than it sounds, as The Company further their thesis by embarking on a (terrible) self-referential play within a play, discuss their characters (hilarious, especially Brian’s ‘gobashi’ acting technique) and reappear as multiple doppelgangers in the Project foyer. Very clever.

Get a Handel on This

Temple Bar Cultural Trust has all kinds of free activities planned for its Handel Celebrations on Tues 13 April, the 268th anniversary of the first ever performance of probably the best-known choral music in the world, Handel’s Messiah – and it happened right here in the heart of Temple Bar. The annual Messiah on the Street featuring Our Lady’s Choral Society has by now become something of a cultural institution, but newcomers from 3 Dublin national schools will also join in a Global Hallelujah. Music historian Barra Boydell sheds a different light on familiar streets and buildings in his Handel & Dublin 1742 Walk, while Nicolas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Archive presents Ye Lord Mayors Delight, a talk and recital (featuring 4 renowned traditional performers) focusing on the earliest published collection of Irish music. And to wrap it all up (keep warm), Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 movie Barry Lyndon gets an outdoor screening on Meeting House Square. All events are free but some are ticketed, more info @

Beckett Double Bill

Gare St Lazare Players are back in town for a brief visit during what looks being a very busy year, with a touring schedule that includes Australia, England, Germany, Israel, Palestine, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and 10 cities in the US. Following their foray into the world of Herman Melville with last year’s Moby Dick, GSL return to their spiritual source, immersing themselves once again in the works of Samuel Beckett. This time it’s a double-bill of short stories, written by Beckett around the same time as First Love. Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett and performed by the extraordinarily Beckettian Conor Lovett, The End is the story of an elderly man following his expulsion from an institution of care, while The Calmative sees perhaps the same protagonist recount a haunting night-time trek across his home town. Gare St Lazare are @ Project from Mon 12-Sat 19 April.,

Sundays @ Noon

If it’s Sunday it must be the Hugh Lane Gallery… On Sun 11 April composer/pianist Jane O’Leary of Concorde gets together with NSO principal cellist Martin Johnson for a programme of new works by O’Leary, Grainne Mulvey and Dermot McDermott. These three new pieces, specially commissioned by Johnson and developed through a collaborative process, give a fascinating account of the many facets of the cello in different contexts. There’s also a belated chance to hear the world premiere of James Wilson’s Sonata Op 172 for cello and piano, written for Johnson shortly before the composer’s death. Pianist Fionnuala Moynihan continues her chronological exploration of Mozart’s Piano Sonatas on Sun 18, playing No 9 in D, No 10 in C and No 11 in A. There’s something of a virtuoso treat on Sunday 25 when accordionist Dermot Dunne teams up with violinist Katherine Hunka for an vibrant mix of celebrated classics and works with a strong Latin flavour, with music by Biber, De Falla, Stravinsky and Ronan Guilfoyle. All concerts start at 12 noon but get there early and remember, it’s all FREE.