Friday, December 16, 2011

The Government Inspector

review Abbey Theatre
It must have seemed like a great idea: take Gogol’s snappy satire on the petty corruption of small town officials in Czarist Russia, transpose it to an Irish idiom and let the resonances and parallels role. In the capable hands of the observant and ever-witty Roddy Doyle and director Jimmy Fay, a man with proven comic sensibilities, what could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a lot actually – the most basic problem being that for much of the time it just isn’t funny enough. There are some real gems in there – the scene where the mistaken ‘Government Inspector’, invited to sup at the mayor’s house, is by turn slobbered over by a bevy of fawning sycophants and a lusty and highly competitive mother and daughter combo, is a sheer delight – but they only serve to highlight the lack of spark elsewhere. An over-reliance on slapstick mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, but if it’s done well it can really work; here, alas, it’s just a bit tedious.
Despite the large cast it’s all a tad underwhelming, and even some of the old reliables aren’t always up to scratch – Don Wycherley’s Mayor, for example, is all shouts and growls, although Marion O’Dwyer and Liz Fitzgibbon as his wife and daughter are a much better match. Conor Murphy’s complicated revolving set works best when the bare bones are exposed – stairs going nowhere and doors opening into nowhere else, but what’s with all the plastic sacks? As for the Irishness, a fair few brown envelopes work their way into the equation, but we’re still dealing with a confusing profusion of Ivanoviches and Alexandroviches along with a mishmash of costumes – why not go the whole hog and give us a proper bit of paddywhackery. All in all, the proverbial curate’s egg, good in parts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sundays@ Noon & Saturday@ Dublin Castle

Coming up at the Hugh Lane Gallery, the widely-acclaimed ConTempo String Quartet celebrate Romanian National Day on Sun 4 Dec as part of the free Sundays @ Noon series. They play Mozart’s ‘Hunt’ Quartet, Bartok’s Six Romanian Dances and are joined by clarinetist Claudio Mansutti for Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet. On Sun 11 Ensemble Avalon play Beethoven’s Violin Sonata no 5 in F major and Piano Trio in C minor.
And on Sat 3 Dec you can catch Ukrainian wunderpianist Alexei Gorlatch, winner of the 2009 Dublin International Piano Competition among many other prizes, in a Music Network recital at Dublin Castle. He plays Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Bill Whelan’s ‘The Currach’.

The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

Siren Productions have come up with a double whammy of sorts with their latest show, The Making of ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore which previews at Project’s Space Upstairs from Thur 1 Dec and opens on Tue 6. In a clever contemporary take on John Ford’s darkly comic Jacobean masterpiece ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, this tumultuous tale unfolds as a film director assembles a cast and crew to film the play. It’s a seductive case of life imitating art as a parallel world of intrigue and desire, lust and obsession begins to inhabit the set, with the boundaries of these two worlds becoming increasingly blurred as reality, fantasy, life and art collide with disastrous results. Combining live theatre and pre-filmed scenes, the always fascinating Selina Cartmell directs two top notch casts: on stage Louis Lovett, Kate Stanley Brennan, Cathy Belton, Phelim Drew and Barbara Brennan; and on film Simon Delaney, Tom Hickey, John Kavanagh, Lorcan Cranitch and Paul Reid. Music is by Conor Linehan, set by Sabine Dargent and costumes by Gabby Rooney.

The Government Inspector

Tis almost the season to be jolly, and amid all the glitz and glitter the Abbey has come up with a Christmas show with a difference, a new version of Gogol’s The Government Inspector by the ever-ebullient Roddy Doyle, which opens tomorrow Wed 30 Nov. This is Doyle’s second time taking on a classic, his version of Synge’s Playboy, written with Bisi Adigun, was a real treat, and this new show sees director Jimmy Fay back at the helm. Casting a satirical eye over endemic bureaucracy and corruption, Gogol’s comedy has a delicious relevance that Doyle will no doubt exploit to the hilt – brown envelopes and underhand bribes abound as a befuddled group of anxious small town dignitaries await the arrival of the eponymous inspector but, as in all the best comedies, nothing is as it seems. A terrific cast is headed up by Don Wycherley, Marion O’Dwyer, Gary Cooke, Mark Doherty, Joe Hanley and Rory Nolan, with lighting by Kevin Tracy, set by Conor Murphy, costumes by Catherine Fay, music by Denis Clohessy and choreography by Liz Roche. Just the thing to ward off those budget blues.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Concorde & Ulysses

Concorde contemporary music ensemble celebrate their 35th birthday with Up Close with Music, a series of six free afternoon concerts in gallery spaces including the Rubicon Gallery, the Contemporary Music Centre and the Gallery of Photography. Each concert will feature a commissioned composer with a new work, as well as highlighting their extensive repertoire and new compositions from both Irish and international composers, including Stephen Gardner, Grainne Mulvey, Judith Ring, Ed Bennett, Korean composer Si-Hyun Yi and Slovenian composer Nina Senk. The series will pay tribute to the late James Wilson and will also focus on the music of Elliot Carter. The first two concerts are at the Rubicon Gallery on Sun 13 and Sun 27 Nov, featuring commissioned works from Dave Flynn and Rhona Clarke respectively.

For more free music, head up to the Dublin Unitarian Church on Stephens Green at 3pm on Sun 13 for the final concert in their Organ Restoration Fund series. Fergal Caulfield conducts the Ulysses Chamber Choir in a programme of Hungarian-themed music including Brahms’ Ziegunerlieder and Listz’s Missa Choralis. There will be a post-concert bucket collection towards the cost of restoring the beautiful JW Walker Organ, built 100 years ago this year.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

String Machine

Now this sounds fascinating: String Machine 2 at Project on Fri 28 Oct – and it’s Free! Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Goethe-Institut Ireland, the concert is the result of an ongoing collaboration between Irish and German traditional and electronic artists, Donal Lunny, Stephan Mathieu, Leopold Hurt and David Donohoe & Eamonn Doyle. New recorded works for stringed instruments were commissioned from Donal Lunny (bouzouki) and Leopold Hurt (zither) which were then used as the sole source material for digital recompositions by Stephan Mathieu and David Donohoe & Eamonn Doyle, with all the sounds being generated exclusively from the bouzouki and zither using various digital processes. That process forms the basis for this live improvised performance featuring collaborations between Lunny and Mathieu and between Hurt and Donohoe & Doyle. The concert will also feature solo performances from each of the artists, and a CD featuring the four commissioned works will be given free on admission. Cool or what!

Sundays@ Noon

Coming up at the Hugh Lane on Sun Oct 30, renowned harpsichordist Malcolm Proud performs JS Bach’s 6 Partitas for Harpsichord over 3 concerts, with introductions from musicologist David Ledbetter. First off is Partita No1 in B flat Major and No 2 in C minor, you can hear No 3 in A minor and No 4 in D Major on Sun 27 Nov, with the final concert featuring No 5 in G Major and No 6 in E minor on Sun 18 Dec. And for something completely different, Sun 6 Nov sees the world premiere of Benjamin Dwyer’s Umbilical, the story of Oedipus, Jocasta and Laius in ten musical scenes for amplified baroque violin, double bass, harpsichord and tape, featuring Maya Homburger, Barry Guy and David Adams.


Plenty of spooky stuff around, given the time of year, with Bewleys Café Theatre taking over the Unitarian Church for a special evening staging of the very successful Poe Show on Fri 4 and Sat 5 Nov. Devised and directed by Michael James Ford with music by Trevor Knight, this theatrical celebration of the work of Edgar Allan Poe includes two of his best-known stories, The Tell-Tale Heart, a terrifying exploration of murder and guilt, and The Cask of Amontillado, a pitch-black comedy of revenge. Meanwhile if you like a spot of gothic horror with your lunch, check out McAdam’s Torment, a new play by Audrey Devereux loosely based on the legend of notorious Scottish bandit chief Sawney Beane. Opens at Bewleys on Halloween itself. And not to be outdone in the realm of spookiness, dark nights and haunting stories from the ancient festival of Samhain are promised at the National Leprechaun Museum, on the site of an ancient city morgue and beside a disturbed graveyard… Interactive adult-only performances from Thur 27 Oct.

Music in the Library

The CMC have teamed up with the RIAM for series of free concerts in Dublin City Libraries between 26 Oct and 2 Nov. Celebrating Dublin’s UNESCO City of Literature status, Musical Tales features works by Irish composers Rachel Holstead, Michael Holohan, Kevin O’Connell, Frank Corcoran, John Buckley and Siobhan Cleary, who have variously found inspiration in Old Irish literature as well as the writers Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan and Oscar Wilde. Benjamin Dwyer will introduce the concerts which feature the Milesian Quartet and well-known mezzo Imelda Drumm. Catch them at the Ilac Library at lunchtime on Mon 24, Drumcondra at 6.30 on Tues 25 Oct, Rathmines at lunchtime on Wed 27 and Walkinstown at 7pm on Wed 2 Nov.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Darklight Festival

This year’s Darklight festival gets back to the roots in a celebration of the spirit of grassroots filmmaking. Taking place at The Factory @ Grand Canal Dock from Thur 20 to Sat 22 Oct, there’s DIY SFX workshops and a screening of Evan Glodell’s acclaimed film Bellflower, as well as Jeanie Finlay’s Sound it Out, a feature doc about the last surviving record shop in Teesside. Other documentaries include Blood in the Mobile, showing the chilling connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo, while We Are Poets follows 6 teenage poets from Leeds Young Authors as they prepare to represent the UK at Brave New Voices, the prestigious poetry slam in Washington DC. Irish artist Jesse Jones is the Artist in Focus; and there’s a late screening of the delightful-sounding Everything Is Terrible featuring seven furry, lovable internet monsters who live in a cave full of VCRS and take forgotten VHS tapes to edit them down into easily digestible viral videos.

Open House

Another chance to peep behind closed doors, when the sixth Open House weekend takes over the city. Organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation and running from Fri 7 to Sun 9, there are over 120 building visits, tours and events. Among the more unusual are boat trips off Dun Laoghaire and the Dublin Docklands, Luas trips to explore the North Docklands and New Frontiers of the Green Line, Walking tours discussing the Destruction of Dublin, the potential of NAMA properties and the Architecture of Dublin Contemporary. Some events and visits are pre-book only, but many more are open to all on a first-come basis, including the iconic Liberty Hall, but be prepared to queue. Check it all out @

Sundays@ Noon

Lovers of Brass will be heading in their droves to the Hugh Lane on Sun 9 (12 noon, admission free) for an Introduction to Brass courtesy of Vox Merus. featuring Simon Menin and Andrea Vonk on trumpets, Alex Kidston on tuba, the NSO’s Cormac O hAodain on horn and the RTECO’s Steve Mathieson on trombone. It’s a lovely programme, paying gentle (if that’s a word you can use around brass) homage to two TCD luminaries, the late Joe Groocock and Brian Boydell, with the former’s Quintet for Brass and the latter’s Five Blows for Brass Quintet, both written in 1984. Also on the programme, Daniel Barkley’s up to the minute Five Run Away Together and Malcolm Arnolds 1961 Quintet for Brass. On Sun 16 you can hear contemporary music from Ireland and Slovenia featuring Joze Kotar on clarinet and Luca Ferrini on piano.

RTE National Symphony Orchestra

Some really good concerts coming up at the NCH from the RTE National Symphony Orchestra. On Fri 7 Oct Lithuanian violinist/violist Julian Rachlin, who started his concert career at the tender age of ten, doubles (or should that be trebles) up as conductor in Hindemith’s Trauermusik for viola and strings and Beethoven’s wonderful Violin Concerto, along with Mozart’s Symphony No 35, the Haffner. The NSO step off-schedule on Tue 11 with a 6.30pm concert featuring Bruch’s dramatic Violin Concerto, with the brilliant Catherine Leonard as soloist, and Mahler’s monumental Tragic Symphony No 6. Carl Orff’s ever-popular Carmina Burana is the main focus on Fri 14, with Gerhard Markson conducting the RTE Philharmonic Choir and Cor na nOg, but there’s also the chance to hear Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds, with Hugh Tinney on the piano. NSO principal clarinettist John Finucane takes up the baton on Fri 21 for music from the Napoleonic era including Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory and Symphony No 7, and he’s also the soloist in Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No 1. Look out too for RTE Big Music Week, of which more anon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dublin Theatre Festival Reviews

Donka: A Letter to Chekhov
Gaiety, til Sun 2 Oct
Strong visuals and a quite entertaining playfulness inform this circus-like show, but despite its impressive credentials it never really adds up to a satisfying whole. Commissioned for the opening of the 2010 Chekhov International Theatre Festival and created by Cirque du Soleil’s Daniele Finzi Pasca, at times it feels a bit Cirque-lite, and the links to Chekhov seem pretty tenuous – girls on swings in pretty white dresses, some messing about with beards and fishing lines, and a bit of slapstick doctoring with some gratuitous contortionism thrown in; possibly a Chekhov-imbued Russian audience would get more out of it. Nevertheless there’s quite a few enjoyable set pieces, including some interesting shadow play, with silhouettes looming large in an almost Soviet display, juggling and gyroscoping, a dream-like ice-shattering dance sequence and a very funny horizontal trapeze-act.

Peer Gynt O’Reilly Theatre, til Sun 16 Oct

Who would have thought that rhyming couplets could be so much fun? Or that the bare space of the O’Reilly Theatre could be transformed into such Gate-like elegance? John Comiskey and Alan Farquharson’s opulent set offers a feast for the eyes, all faded Victoriana and bay-windowed grandeur, with a curved central space that conceals and occasionally reveals an excellent live band. Tarab provide a compelling musical backdrop to the unfolding saga of the elusive Peer Gynt, fantasist extraordinaire. Arthur Riordan’s clever new version, directed with gusto by Lynne Parker, has a definite Irish twist to it, with its lilting tunes, rhymes and raps, and while the pace does flag a wee bit in the second half, it’s always going to be hard to match the sheer exuberance of that first act, its wild adventures, flights of fancy and tales of derring-do, of mountain goats and elopements, the devoted mammy, and a delicious trio of troll princesses. A terrific ensemble cast and a bravura performance from Rory Nolan as our beleaguered hero.

Rian, Gaiety, til Sat 8 Oct

Mention the words ‘traditional Irish music’ and ‘dance’ in the same sentence, and inevitably the spectre of Riverdance comes to mind, with its streamlined perfection and glitzy costumes, a remnant of the good old bad old days. But this earthy new show from choreographer Michael Keegan Dolan and musician/composer Liam O Maonlai soon dispels any such notions. Mind you, the start doesn’t look too promising. The company of musicians and dancers are ranged in a semicircle at the back of the stage, with O Maonlai at the centre in what seems like a very formal arrangement, but things gradually take off until the stage is full of leppin’ and boundin’, sweeping and swooping, the way you might dance in the kitchen (if you were good enough). There’s a touch of the comely maidens, in their gunas and ankle socks, with the fellas in tweed suits and braces, but it’s nicely juxtaposed by an ethnically diverse cast and there’s no restraint here - at times it almost feels like a seisuin. Some of the dance moves seem a tad over-exposed, but there other moments that take your breath away – the mischievous teasing of the solo box player, the slow-mo reaction as the uilleann piper casts a spell, or the beautiful pas de deux, a fascinating variation on the slow set. The music is of course top class, with O Maonlai himself particularly busy on piano, harp, bodhran, tin whistle and vocals, and although his voice is in fine fettle, for me the show was stolen by a most beautiful rendition of Lough Erin Shore from Eithne Ni Cathain. As the last notes faded away you could literally hear a pin drop. Riverdance is well and truly banished.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival

Quite a smorgasbord of theatrical experiences at this year’s Theatre Festival, from the wild intoxication of contemporary circus and flamboyant extravaganza, to the haunting introspection of lost boys and forgotten mothers; from the playful exploration of myths and fairytales to the rigorous interrogation of The Radical Mind or the powerful honesty of the one-woman show. It might be a cliché, but Loughlin Deegan’s final year as DTF director has definitely produced a bit of something for everyone, as personified in the opening show DONKA, a letter to Chekhov (Gaiety), originally commissioned for the opening of the 2010 Chekhov International Theatre Festival. Aerial acrobatics, multi-media illusion and circus magic from leading director (and Cirque du Soleil veteran) Daniele Finzi Pasca, inspired by the plays and diaries of Anton Chekhov, surreal escapism guaranteed!
Rough Magic reunite with Improbable Frequency author Arthur Riordan for a playful re-imagining of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt (O’Reilly Theatre), the delusional boy who never grew up. Funny, fast-paced and fantastical, it’s directed by Lynn Parker and features live music from Francesco Turrisi’s Tarab.
Cornwall-based Kneehigh, purveyors of dark yet magical fairy tales for the past 30 years, make their first visit to Dublin with the exhilarating The Wild Bride (Gaiety), an epic and irreverent romance that follows the fortunes of young woman whose witless father accidentally sells her to the devil.
There’s world premieres a-plenty in this year’s festival; DTF and Landmark Productions have joined forces for a new play by celebrated writer Colm Toibin. Testament (Project), directed by Garry Hynes and featuring the outstanding Marie Mullen, gives provocative voice to a woman forced to carry a heavy burden through tumultuous times, asking big questions about the who, what and why of our beliefs.
In another powerful one-woman show, Toneelgroep Amsterdam present Jean Cocteau’s La Voix Humaine (Beckett Theatre) featuring Halina Reijn in a tour de force performance. Directed by the world renowned Ivo van Hove, this seminal story of abandonment and heartbreak centres on a desperate woman’s last phonecall to an ex-lover.
And one man (Omphile Moluis) tells the true story of a forgotten South African township in the award-winning Itsoseng (Axis), as the hope of a new post-apartheid life is crushed by the realities of a corrupt and incompetent system.
The fab Fabulous Beast are back with an ambitious new show that aims to explore the tension and harmony between Irish traditional music and contemporary dance. Rian (Gaiety) brings together choreographer Michael Keegan Dolan, trad fave Liam O Maonlai and a company of musicians and dancers in response to O Maonlai’s album of the same name, itself inspired by the seminal recording O Riada sa Gaiety.
At the Abbey, a new production of the O’Casey classic Juno and the Paycock in a first ever co-production with UK’s National Theatre. Risteard Cooper, Sinead Cusack and Ciran Hinds head an impressive cast in this epic tale of survival and vengeance, in which the ambitions of the lowly Boyle family are set against the political and social events of the War of Independence. The NT’s Howard Davies directs with design by the excellent Bob Crowley.
Chekhov turns up again in 16 Possible Glimpses (Peacock), a new play by Marina Carr examining the life and death of the elusive genius. Visuals, words and music collide in a series of dialogues and domestic scenes around the master storyteller, playwright, doctor, lover, brother, son. Wayne Jordan directs.
Artistic extravagance from Belgium’s Les ballets C de la B (2006’s vsprs) in Gardenia (Gaiety) a flamboyant and defiant expression of the indomitable human spirit featuring seven ageing transvestites and transsexuals. A collaboration between celebrated musical director Frank Van Laecke and leading choreographer Alain Platel.
At the Gate, Hugo Hamilton’s brilliant memoir The Speckled People is adapted by the author and directed by Patrick Mason. Hamilton’s story of his constrained childhood in 1950’s Dublin, the product of a fanatical Gaelgoiri father and a gentle German mother is both deeply personal and powerfully resonant.
Brokentalkers follow up 2009’s Silver Stars with The Blue Boy, dealing with the experiences of men and women who spent their childhood incarcerated in Catholic institutions. Live performance, recorded interview, multi-media and film, written by Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan, with choreography by DV8’s Eddie Kay and music by Sean Millar.
Siren Productions take over the James Joyce House for The Lulu House, an immersive and intoxicating exploration of the elusive, seductive Lulu, inspired by the silent movie Pandora’s Box and the 19th century Lulu plays, a mix of performance, musical, installation and film featuring Lorcan Cranitch and Camille O’Sullivan.
Cabaret macabre gets another wicked twist from UK company 1927 in a show that mixes elements of Fritz Lang, Charles Dickens and Tim Burton. Synchronising live music and performance with film and animation The Animals and Children Took to the Street (Project) explores the seedy underbelly of the Bayou, as Agnes Eaves and her daughter arrive late one night amid the cockroaches, crime and corruption.
The Radical Mind celebrates the Goethe-Institut’s 50th anniversary in Ireland with a season focusing on leading experimenters and innovators, presenting 3 independent contemporary works from Germany. She She Pop & Their Fathers (Beckett Theatre) draws on King Lear to show the painful realities of aging and parenthood, as the performers expose their personal grievances alongside their real-life fathers. In their ongoing exploration of the complexities and absurdities of contemporary culture, Gob Squad use tea, cake and electric guitars to reach out to the masses and incite them to rise up in Revolution Now! (Beckett) The clichés surrounding Othello and Desdemona gradually give way to a tough confrontation between two contrasting cultures fuelled by extreme emotions, prejudices and misunderstandings in the two-hander Othello c’est qui (Smock Alley)
Behind Closed Doors is a series of intimate theatre experiences exploring often forgotten facets of Irish society. Louise Lowe’s Laundry takes a tiny audience to a former Magdalen Laundry in the north inner city. In Mark O’Halloran’s Trade a vulnerable young rent boy sits with a middle-aged client in a rundown B&B. Corcoadorca’s Request Programme featuring the brilliant Eileen Walshe in a wordless performance, brings us into the private world of a woman whose ultimate decision will change everything.
Reviewed gives you a chance to catch the ones that got away: The Performance Corporation’s carnivalesque satire Slattery’s Sago Saga; Louise Lowe’s World’s End Lane, an exploration of the notorious Monto district; the personal love story of Amy Conroy’s I heart Alice heart I; Theatreclub’s Heroin, an unsettling look at those that society left behind; and Gavin Kostick’s Fight Night, charting the gripping comeback of failed amateur boxer Dan Coyle.
And not forgetting the Family Season, with shows from Denmark and Belgium; In Development (free but booking essential); Project Brand New at the Hendron Building; Panel Discussions and more.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If Music Be

Some fab music coming up over the next few days, kicking off at the NCH this evening (Wed 21) with the fascinating and highly dramatic pianist Rolf Hind, a brilliant exponent of contemporary music. The opening concert in the NewSoundWorld series, the two-piano programme mixes John Cage with eastern influences including Takemitsu and Tan Dun.
Lots of stuff on Culture Night (Fri 23). At the NCH you can hear RTE Cor a nOg at 7pm, prior to the main NSO concert, and for a mere fiver, the RTE Vanbrugh Quartet at 10.15pm playing Mozart, Arvo Part and Donnacha Dennehy. The Contemporary Music Centre opens its doors til 10pm for a live Music and Installation Programme with the Spatial Music Collective, including Jonathan Nangle’s Trip the Light Fantastic, Brtian Bridges’ Collapsing Old Buildings, and works for harp and electronics by Linda Buckley and Enda Bates.
The CMC’s new music::new Ireland salon series begins on Wed 28 at the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room with singer Tine Verbeke and cellist Martin Johnson (of Concorde) in a programme that includes James Wilson and Elaine Agnew.
Sundays at Noon at the Hugh Lane features upcoming young classical guitarist Pavlos Kanellakis on Sun 25 playing de Falla, Villa Lobos, Buckley and de Bromhead. On Sun 2 Oct the National Chamber Choir sing Bach, Brahms, Arnold Bax, Siobhan Cleary and Tarik O’Regan.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Absolut Fringe

And so to the Fringe. What delights await us in Week Two?
Man of Valour has been packing them in at the Beckett, a one-man action movie created by The Corn Exchange's Michael West & Annie Ryan and Paul Reid (of Raw fame), the latter delivering a virtuosic performance as an office drone with a hyperactive fantasy gland. From Oz comes another one-man-er, the multi award-winning The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer a feel-good epic bout enduring love and the end of the world that mixes animation, mime, puppetry, projections and live music. (Project)
Dance at Project includes A Lost Opera, a new dance work from celebrated choreographer Deborah Hay directed by Jason Byrne and featuring Ella Clarke, Cindy Cummings and Julie Lockett. Make, I Mean brings together John Scott's IMDT and New York's Adrienne Truscott for a multi-generational -cultural and -discipline piece.
Abie Philbin Bowman brings his edgy satire to the Lir with a piece celebrating the man of the moment, Pope Benedict: Bond Villain. David O'Doherty turns bankrupt explorer in Rory Sheridan's Tales of the Antarctica - sold out at the time of writing but definitely worth queueing for returns. (Smock Alley) For a pocket musical peek at Dublin city 2011, check out Pocket Music at Bewleys, part of Fishamble's Show in a Bag.
In Gis a Shot of your Bongos Mister drummer Brian Fleming creates an aural biographical journey from Fatima Mansions to the shanty towns of West Africa. What Are Poets For? (in a destitute time) sees performance artist Denis Buckley draw parallels between the disenfranchised London Irish and the demoralised new Hibernia. (both at City Arts)
A timeless location on Eustace St heaps on the atmosphere in Hand Me Down the Moon, an immersive theatrical experience created by the formidable trio of Bairbre Ni Chaoimh, Aideen Barry and Louise Lowe, as a young space-obsessed girl embarks on her quest to defy gravity and journey to the stars.
PS a couple of cool freebies: there's a bit of a darnathon at the Fringe box office (Filmbase) over the next few days with Furturemenders' The Sock Exchange. Learn how to darn with love. And prepare to be uplifted at Christ Church Cathedral on Sat 24 @5pm by the swirling choral/choreographical spirituality of Tom Lane's experimental evensong Corokinesis.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Finally! Back on dry land and what a cool month September turns out to be. You can scarcely move without colliding with a bit of culture. First there’s the fab Fringe Festival aka Absolut Fringe, hurtling towards its second week with some tantalising goodies in store and a new festival club on uber-hip Parnell Square East. Long live the northside! And even better is the news that Macnas’s opening night show at Collins Barracks, cancelled because of adverse weather conditions, has been rescheduled for the Fringe’s closing night on Sun 25. Yippee!!! Get your tickets at the Fringe box office on Curved St. Dublin Contemporary is out and about with over 90 Irish and international artists on show at Earlsfort Terrace and various galleries. At 15 quid a ticket it might seem a bit pricey but there’s a lot of stuff to see, and for the final hour you can get an Art Bite for a fiver. And if you’re lucky you might get to take part in a special Roadworks walking tour as part of Culture Night on Fri 23. Musicwise, there’s interesting concerts from NewSoundWorlds on Wed 21 and Sundays@Noon on Sun 25, the RTE NSO are back in situ at the NCH, with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Ander Hillborg’s sinuous Clarinet Concerto on Fri 23. And then to cap it all, the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off on Thur 29 for a two week splurge. Happy hunting, culture vultures!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Brad Mehldau

Well whadya know – you go away for a couple of weeks and before you know it it’s September and those grey clouds you were fleeing suddenly turn out to have some very inviting silver linings. Shows from Note Productions includes the amazing jazz pianist Brad Mehldau in a solo show at the NCH on Wed 14, one man and a piano conjuring up a density and richness of sound that morphs from original compositions to his very idiosyncratic take on genre-bending tunes, from My Favourite Things to Kurt Cobain’s Lithium on his latest live album. Not to be missed. Note are also presenting Iarla O Lionaird at the Sugar Club on Fri 16 as part of launch tour for his latest album Foxlight.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer in the Symphony

The RTE National Symphony Orchestra get busy for the summer with Tue lunchtime and Fri evening concerts at the NCH. Lunchtime fare includes a nice mix of Berlioz, Faure, Saint-Saens and a taste of a Haydn Cello Concerto on Tue 28, all under the baton of Principal Conductor Alan Buribayev. Strauss’s Blue Danube and Tchaikvosky’s Swan Lake share the stage with bluegrass fiddle music on 5 July. There’s Ravel and Bizet on Tue 12; Balfe, Butterworth and Bernstein on Tue 19 with soprano Katy Kelly; and Weber’s Bassoon Concerto on Tue 26. On Fri 1 July there’s a rare opportunity to hear Stanford’s 2nd Piano Concerto with soloist Finghin Collins, along with Tchaikovsky’s dramatic 5th Symphony. Other evening concerts include Operatic Favourites with South African soprano Sarah-Jane Brandon on Fri 8; the Great American Songbook on Fri 15; lyric fm’s Listeners Favourites on Fri 22; and the slightly dubious Symphonic Rock on Fri 29.


What with Molly Sweeney at the Gate and Translations currently previewing at the Abbey, eminent playwright Brian Friel is once again centre stage in Dublin. Set in 1833, as the British Army embark on a mapping project of rural Donegal, Translations is definitely one of my favourite Friel plays. It has it all – history, politics, intellect, cross-cultural clashes, language and identity, a delightful love story, a real sense of fun, and a sinister undercurrent that will inevitably lead to tragedy. Conall Morrison directs a cast that includes Denis Conway, Barry Ward, Janice Byrne, Tim Delap, Michael James Ford, Donal O’Kelly, Aoife McMahon, Janet Moran, Aaron Monaghan and Rory Nolan. Opens Wed 29 June.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Irish Composers Collective

Something tasty from the Irish Composers Collective: Soprano Elizabeth Hilliard and David Bremner give a concert for Voice and Piano at the NCH next Wed 22 June of previously unperformed works by member composers, including Glen Austin, David Bremner, Peter Moran, Richard Gill, Massimo Davi ('Fairytale for female voice and resonant piano') and Ryan Molloy. Coming up, an AudioVisual Concert on 26 July features collaborations between five composers and five visual/video artists, and in August the ICC present their first Laptop Ensemble.

And over at the Contemporary Music Centre at 6pm you can catch the launch of Ed Bennett's new CD My Broken Machines, featuring a live performance by Paul Roe.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Short & Sweet

Over the past while I’ve come to realise that despite my best intentions, life has a habit of intervening in my blogging schedule, so for the next few months I’m going to keep things short and sweet – basic info and a link. But remember, if it’s on the blog it’s worth checking out.So here goes:
Sundays@ Noon at the Hugh Lane Gallery is a definite must for any city dweller. Free music in a fab gallery, what more could you want? On Sun 19 you can hear pianist Finghin Collins, currently associate artist with the NSO, playing Beethoven and Debussy, and on Sun 26 contemporary music group Concorde team up with acclaimed violist Garth Knox for The Viola: A Wild Beast Unleashed, 5 new compositions by Irish composers inspired by the afore-mentioned Knox.
And in the same venue for a small fee, on Sat 18 @3pm you can here the National Chamber Choir under the baton of the brilliant Paul Hillier singing music by Brahms and his early music influences including the likes of Gabrieli and Palestrina.
A new cross-arts project Movement of Sound is at the Backloft on June 19, a collaboration between Karen Power (composer / live electronics), Mary Nunan (dancer and choreographer), Deirdre O’Leary (clarinet/ bass clarinet) and Kate Ellis (cello), featuring Irish premiers by international composers; Saariaho, Tiensuu and Hyla. And speaking of the Backloft, there’s a free concert on Fri 10 @7pm featuring RawClassico aka soprano Frances Marshall and classical guitarist John Feeley, a combination of Italian arias and Celtic repertoire, all arranged by Feeley.
Some good stuff coming up at Art Polonia’s Centre for Creative Practice, where you can indulge in everything from jazz, flamenco, electro-acoustic, experimental music performance, folk music, storytelling, documentaries and a German movie night. Check out their website @
Popular French-based pianist Ivan Ilic is back again at the NCH’s John Field Room for a lunchtime recital on Fri 24 June, including his own arrangements of French songs by Debussy, Fauré, and Ernest Chausson, as well as two rarely-heard works from 1930 by Ravel and Godowsky.
Next show into the Gate Theatre is Brian Friel’s thought-provoking exploration of personal identity Molly Sweeney, which had its premiere there some 15 years ago. Previewing from Thur 23 and opening on Tue 28 June, this new production is directed by Patrick Mason and features Dawn Bradfield, Michael Byrne and Peter Hanly.
At Project til Sat 18 June, Loose Canon return to their Shakespearian roots with their take on A Midsummer Night's Dream? (note that question mark). As they so eloquently put it, “Is it about fairies and pixies and the course of true love not running smoothly? Or is it about getting f*cked off your face – so f*cked off your face that you end up f*cking a donkey?” Sounds like some party.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Horizons at the NCH

Two concerts in the RTE NSO’s free lunchtime Horizons series at the NCH, focusing on contemporary Irish composers: on Tue 10 May Belfast composer Philip Hammond celebrates his 60th birthday with a programme that includes ...the starry dynamo in the machinery of night… composed in 2001 for President Clinton’s Honorary Doctorate from Queen’s University Belfast, and his Concertino for Flute and Strings, with NSO principal flute Catriona Ryan. It’s the turn of Jerome de Bromhead on Tue 17, when his first Violin Concerto gets its world premiere, with NSO leader Alan Smale as soloist.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

12 Points!

So what’s all this Douze Points stuff? Thankfully, it’s not the Eurovision but a visionary snapshot of the best of contemporary Euorpean jazz. Originally the Dublin-based baby of the Improvised Music Company, it’s now become something of a Pan-European festival, heading out for new adventures every second year. Luckily, 2011 is a homecoming years, so between Wed 4 and Sat 7 May you can sample a vibrant cross-section of jazz in all its glorious diversity. Project Arts Centre is the venue, with 3 bands each night from 7pm. The opening night kicks off with Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva and her Quintet, followed by some gritty improv with Amsterdam’s The Ambush Party and piano magic from London-based trio Phronesis. Thursday features the Lisbeth Quartett from Berlin headed up by impressive young saxophonist Charlotte Greve, innovative Parisian trio Metal-o-phone and Rome’s hard-grooving Neko quartet. Stockholm gets a look in on Fri 6 with adventurous Swedish singer Isabel Sorling and her Quintet, more pianistic lyricism from Geneva’s Colin Vallon Trio, whose debut album for ECM has just been released, and PELbO from Oslo with an exhilarating mix of tuba, voice and drums. The final night starts with Dublin’s own RedivideR – brass & bass spearheaded by drummer Matt Jacobson, Slovenia makes its first festival appearance with Kaja Draksler’s Acropolis Quintet, and wrapping it all up with a sheen of catchy Scandinavian creativity, Elifantree from Helsinki. Tickets are €20/€16 per night or a recession-friendly Festival Pass is €60 – that’s a fiver a band. Check it all out at,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Music & Jazz

Two shows on Wed 27 April: Some esoteric jazz from Tarab, headed up by Irish-based Italian musician Francesco Turrisi, who launch their debut CD at Whelan’s. With Turrisi on accordion, harmonium and various Arabic and Sicilian frame drums, his jazz/classical background is elaborated by saxophonist Nick Roth and cellist Kate Ellis, while an Irish counterbalance is provided by traditional flautist Emer Mayock and percussionist Robbie Harris.
Meanwhile the Contemporary Music Centre team up with the Irish Composers’ Collective for a Night of New Music in the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room. Kicking off at 6pm with the CMC’s new music::new Ireland salon series (admission free, booking recommended) Movement of Sound is a collaboration between composer/performer Karen Power, who works primarily in the acoustic and electro-acoustic field, with well-known dancer and choreographer Mary Nunan. After a break for wine and tapas, the ICC present the Quiet Music Ensemble, featuring John Godfrey, Séan Mac Erlaine and Isla de Ziah, performing the works of Alyson Barber, Solfa Carlile, Patrick Connolly, Susan Geaney, Aristides Llaneza and Adam McCartney. Pre-concert talk at 8.15pm.,,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sundays@ Noon

Some great music coming up at the Hugh Lane Gallery. On Sun 17 April the Irish Baroque Orchestra Chamber Soloists , led by Grammy-nominee Monica Huggett , play Schubert’s wonderful Quintet, giving audiences a rare chance to hear this masterpiece, with its unusual combination of 2 cellos, 2 violins and viola, performed on period instruments as audiences in the 1830s would have heard it. On Sun 24 pianist and Fulbright Alum Therese Fahy presents inter-changes: the first decade of Irish piano music in the 21st century prior to a US tour as part of the Imagine Ireland festival. Representing a cross-section of Irish contemporary music, from the traditional to the avant-garde, it features works by Siobhan Cleary, Ronan Guilfoyle, Jonathan Nangle, Kevin O'Connell, Ian Wilson, Michael Holohan and Bill Whelan. Guilfoyle turns up again on Sun 1 May when violinist Michael d’Arcy and pianist Izumi Kimura present ‘Celebrating Bartok’, with Sonatas for Violin and Piano by Ronan Guilfoyle and Bela Bartok, and a new work by Guilfoyle to celebrate Bartok’s 130th anniversary. Sun 8 features the Songs of Seoirse Bodley, with soprano Syvlia O'Brien, and on Sun 15 Annette Cleary and Lance Coburn play works for cello and piano by Rachmaninov and Webern. Concerts start at 12 noon and it’s all FREE, but get there early if you want to get a seat.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


A new performance space makes its debut on Mon 21 March downstairs in Cafe des Irlandais on Georges St, onetime home of the late lamented Cafe Bar Deli. The Matchbox Theatre is offering a teatime Play & a Pint deal for a tenner, kicking off with the Irish premiere of last year’s Edinburgh hit Honest by upcoming English playwright DC Moore. A one-man comedy about a disgruntled civil servant who goes on the piss, (and seeing as you’re having a teatime pint there’s plenty of opportunity for life to imitate art) it features Edwin Mullane of Whacker Murphy’s Bad Buzz fame. Runs til 3 April.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gorecki's Last Songs

The long-established award-winning Silesian Quartet from Poland commemorate the recent death of their fellow countryman, the celebrated Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Gorecki with a concert at the NCH’s Kevin Barry Room on Sat 12 March. They play two of his chart-topping string quartets written for the Kronos Quartet in the 1990s: No 1 Already it is dusk, and No 3 …songs are sung, completed in 1995 but not premiered until 10 years later. The concert is sponsored by ArtPolonia and the Polish Embassy.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Originally established in York and now transferring to Dublin, The Link Project, brainchild of composer Judith Ring, aims to break a few boundaries and change a few perceptions in the structured presentation of music performance. Sensorium, a week long multidisciplinary music festival running at Project from March 7-12, gives us the first taste of such possibilities, encompassing works that include contemporary music, improvisation, electronic music, electro-acoustic music, audio-visual works, music and dance, and physical theatre. The festival opens on Mon 7 with Sonic Boom, a free concert (booking required) of tape works by electroacoustic composers Ed Bennett, Donnacha Dennehy, Roger Doyle, Judith Ring and Jurgen Simpson, including a chance to hear the first Irish performance of Doyle’s The Ninth Set, winner of the Magesterium Prize at Bourges in 2007. Tue and Wed are given over to workshops, with evening concerts showcasing the results. The Contemporary Music Centre hosts a free lunchtime concert on Thur, while the big noise is reserved for Fri & Sat. On Fri a diverse mixture of technological, instrumental and visual performances features works by Enda Bates, Enrico Bertelli, Theo Burt, Alex Harker, Emily Kalies, Jonathan Nangle, Matt Postle and Judith Ring, including the latter’s My one’s bigger than yours for double bass and cello. Sat wraps things up with a lineup of electro-acoustic, instrumental, electronic, improvisation and audio visual works from Enrico Bertelli, Linda Buckley, Jane Cassidy, Emily Kalies, Matt Postle, Judith Ring, Radek Rudnicki, Garrett Sholdice and Tim Wright. Musicians include Enrico Bertelli and Simon Roth on percussion, Joe Browning on shakuhachi, Kate Ellis on cello, Suzanne Fatta and Michelle O’Rourke on vocals, Matt Postle on trumpet and Malachy Robinson on double bass. Should be a good one.,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lay Me Down Softly

Playwright Billy Roche does a nice line in harking back to times past. It’s not mere nostalgia, mind, he has a real knack for tapping into the zeitgeist of another era, his characters embodying the pleasure and pain, expectations and frustrations, a warts-and-all microcosm of rural Ireland. There’s also a yen for music in there too, Roche himself having once been the angular frontman for The Roche Band. Lay Me Down Softly is his most recent play, first seen at the Peacock in 2008 and now at Project in a new production (previews from Tue 8 March, opens Thur 10) following its sell-out run during last year’s Wexford Opera Festival. It’s 1962, and the burlesque world of Delaney’s Travelling Roadshow, with its enticing Boxing Booth, takes centre stage. Step on up, ladies and gentlemen, smell it, sense it, feel it, hear it, and become part of this dark and dangerous story, a mythic tale of love and loss. Meet Theo, the charismatic, violent ringmaster and his Carmen-like lover Lily. Rub shoulders with Peadar, Theo’s tried and not-so-trusted sidekick; the limping Junior, gentle and handsome; the waif-like Emer, searching for her runaway father; and the vain prizefighter Dean, who takes on all comers on a nightly basis – until a challenge from a professional fighter throws a spanner in the works. Playwirght doubles up as director, with a cast that includes Gary Lydon, Pagan McGrath, Lesley McGuire, Anthony Morris, Dermot Murphy and Michael O’Hagan. Design is by Wexford’s Bui Bolg with lighting by Paul Keogan. Runs til Sat 2 April.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sundays@ Noon

Well, January certainly got a bit sluggish but hey, it’s a new month, so time to deslug. The Hugh Lane Gallery as always is a great place to be on Sundays @ Noon; today you can hear the resurrected music of Ina Boyle, a vanished Wicklow-based composer of the early 20th century who studied with Vaughan Williams and was the only female composer included in the Carnegie Collection of British Music. On Sun 13 sibling duo Joanne and David Quigley play Sonatas for Violin and Piano by Beethoven and Elgar, and the Irish premiere of Phillip Martin’s Mollification. There’ll be some pretty fancy fingerwork on Sun 20 when pianist Jonathan Plowright plays a scintillating mix of Chopin - including the Fantasie in F minor, 2 Nocturnes and a Scherzo - and Paderewski, from the Series de Morceaux Op 16. And on Sun 27 former NSO principal William Dowdall plays new music from Ireland and New Zealand for flute and electronics as featured on his new CD Breathe. And guess what, it’s all FREE.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Irish Baroque Orchestra

Masterworks from the Irish Baroque Orchestra is a series of 4 one hour concerts at Christ Church Cathedral featuring Baroque blockbusters from Germany, France and Italy. Between Tue 18 and Sun 23 Jan you can hear 4 Bach Suites, 4 Rameau Suites and some of Vivaldi’s finest Concerti da Camera, all under the leadership of the irrepressible Monica Huggett. And if you buy 2 tickets online, you get the 3rd one free.

Sundays@ Noon

The Hugh Lane Gallery’s free Sundays@ Noon series is back on track. On Sun 16 renowned Irish jazz composer, bassist Ronan Guilfoyle, blurs the lines between classical and jazz in his new improvising chamber group Trilogue, featuring Swiss jazz singer Sarah Buechi and Japanese contemporary classical pianist Izumi Kimura. With a repertoire of newly composed pieces by Guilfoyle and music by Bartok, Ligeti and Bach, Trilogue utilises the virtuosity of all three players and their experience of both improvised and composed chamber music to create a wide range of timbres, moods and dynamics. Just the thing to start the new year. On Sun 23 the Ensemble Avalon, featuring violinist Ioana Pectu-Colan, cellist Gerald Peregrine and pianist Michael McHale play an interesting programme including Debussy's Cello Sonata, Mozart's Piano Trio in B Flat and the world premiere of a new piece by Benedict Schlepper-Connolly. An interesting mix on Sun 30 sees well known soprano Virginia Kerr team up with pianist Therese Fahy for music by Andre Previn - his 1992 piece Honey and Rue - and Messiaen's Poemes pour Mi, dating from 1936.

Tapestry Unravelled

Carole King's seminal 1971 album Tapestry is celebrated in a concert presented by Improvised Music Company at the NCH’s John Field Room on Thur 13 Jan. Tapestry Unravelled features soulful London-based Irish chanteuse Christine Tobin, winner of a 2008 BBC Jazz Award, and UK jazz pianist Liam Noble, an acclaimed master of colour and harmony.

New Horizons

Free contemporary music concerts at the NCH? That’s the NSO’s annual Horizons series of lunchtime concerts, which start on Tue 11 Jan with the world premiere of Kevin O’Connell’s large scale Symphony. On Tue 18 there’s another chance to hear David Fennessy’s Bodies along with James MacMillan’s others see us… The focus is on Piers Hellawell on Tue 22 Feb, including Agricolas, his 2008 concerto for clarinet and orchestra performed by Robert Plane. Philip Hammond’s 60th birthday is celebrated on 10 May with a programme that spans the past 30 years. And there’s another world premiere on 17 May, with Jerome de Bromhead’s first Violin Concerto. You can hear the Composers in Conversation, presented by the Contemporary Music Centre, before each concert.

I'm A Celebrity

Anyone for a multi-platform theatrical experience? Check out Peer to Peer’s Celebrity at Project from Tue 11 Jan. A story for our fractured times of love gone wrong, this new play by Jody O’Neill uses text, dance, music and an integrated online experience ( to explore the construction of identity and the invention of character in a world where fame equals power equals love equals worth – anyone can be the next big thing and you're only a Facebook page away from a better, prettier, more popular you.

The Head of Red O’Brien

A Double Bill by the multi-talented Mark O'Halloran (Adam & Paul, Garage) kicks off at Bewleys (lunchtime) on Mon 11 Jan. First off is a revisiting of The Head of Red O’Brien, as the eponymous Red, on the road to recovery after a near fatal attack by his wife, ponders where it all went wrong. John O'Dowd stars in this bizarre love story with such essential themes as premature baldness, the joys of the pre-marriage course and the career of Sean Connery, not to mention the mysteries of phrenology, linguistics and the eternal appeal of Nora Barnacle's backside. From Jan 31 you can hear the other side of the story in the world premiere of Mary Motorhead, as Red’s missus reveals all from her prison cell.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra!

There’s some cracking concerts coming up from the NSO at the NCH this month. On Fri 7 the dazzling young Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang is the soloist in Rodrigo’s magnificent Concierto de Aranjuez, as well as giving the first Irish performance of Stephen Goss’s Albéniz Concerto. More from sunny Espana in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol and da Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, with mezzo Fiona Murphy. And all will be revealed in a discussion/demonstration with Xuefei Yang at 7pm. On Fri 14 trombonist Christian Lindberg doubles up as director and soloist, with Jason Sinclair, in Jan Sandstrom’s Echoes of Eternity for two trombones and orchestra; there’s also music by Weber and Sibelius, and Lindberg features again in a late night Trombone recital with music by Lindberg and Cage – admission €5 or free with the evening concert ticket. Dvorak and Haydn on Fri 21, with NSO principal clarinetist John Finucane in the former’s Serenade for Winds and Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey in the latter’s Cello Concertos in C and D. Wispelwey turns up again in the late night recital with Bach’s Suite No 2 in D minor for solo cello. On Fri 28 Gerhard Markson conducts Bruckner’s massive Symphony No 8 in C minor, followed by a late night recital of Beethoven’s Piano Quintet in E flat featuring Finghin Collins and the RTE NSO Principal Winds. Excellent stuff, and as if that wasn’t enough the free lunchtime Horizons series kicks off on Tue 11 Jan – more of that anon.