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.