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Review: Potato Needs a Bath

October 15th, 2012 | Reviews

The Ark

Maris Piper is having a party, and all her fruity friends are invited. There are the bickering Cherry twins, the opera-singing Madame Aubergine, Mr and Mrs Pear, who met at a conference, and their son William. There is poor little Peach, who keeps falling over and bruises easily. There are some veggies in attendance too: entertainment comes courtesy of a Spanish onion strumming his guitar, and the guest of honour is Potato. Potato is a slippery (and dirty) kind of guy. He loves parties, but hates having to get ready, and as Ms Piper prepares his bath he disappears. Read more »

Review: Your Brother. Remember?

October 12th, 2012 | Reviews

IN THE pantheon of classic films there may be worthier movies to revisit than Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer. A 1989 martial-arts movie so trashy it makes The Karate Kid II seem like The Seventh Seal, Van Damme’s film is nonetheless the foundation text for Zachary Oberzan’s Your Brother. Remember?, a personal memoir that sifts through mainstream trash and his homemade recreations, transforming them into something deeply considered and unexpectedly moving.

In 1990, the young Oberzan goofily spoofed Kickboxer (among other B-Movies) at home in Maine with his elder brother, Gator, with support from their kid sister. Nearly 20 years later they remake their remake, frame by frame, and what seemed like a lark becomes fraught with alarming change. Gator, toned and confident in 1990, is now paunchy and restless; the quiet and intense Zachary has become obsessional. And while we watch the three versions roughly spliced together on-screen, we consider the effects of time, both eroding and hardening. And whatever happened to Jean Claude Van Damme? Read more »

Review: The Coming Storm

October 12th, 2012 | Reviews

Samuel Beckett Centre

THE COMING Storm begins with a lecture about storytelling. A good story should have a strong beginning, we are told, and a charismatic central character, elements of mystery, and silences that gets broken. Of course, Forced Entertainment will flout every one of these conventions in this devised, impressionistic performance, which offers fragments of stories frustrated in their telling in a deliberately anti-linear approach that never comes together as a coherent whole. Read more »

Q&A: Lorcan Cranitch. ‘I had a very embarrassing nude scene, one actor suffered a nervous breakdown, and there were more people on stage than in the audience’

October 11th, 2012 | Laurence Mackin

Lorcan Cranitch is currently appearing in The Talk of the Town, at Project Arts Centre until October 20th

What is the best production you have been in? Tricky one. I’ve been fortunate to be in some great shows, so it would be either the original production of Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme or The Price by Arthur Miller at the Gate.

And the worst? Easy. A very depressing play, appropriately called Atonement at the Lyric in Hammersmith, many years ago. To this day, I still couldn’t say what it was about. I had a very embarrassing nude scene, one of the other actors – there were two of them – suffered a nervous breakdown, and on Guy Fawkes Night there were more people on stage than in the audience.


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Review: Shibari

October 11th, 2012 | Reviews

THE COY way of describing Gary Duggan’s intricately constructed new play for the Abbey is as a tangle of connections; from loose strands between perfect strangers to more intimate relationships with ties that bind. The more sensational way to describe it, which will make sense to anyone who’s Googled the title (then nervously cleared their browser history), is that it is inspired by the art of Japanese bondage.
It says something about the emotional sensitivities of Duggan and his director Tom Creed that while Shibari makes room for both a sauna and a celebrity sextape, its most erotic scenes by far involve a ballroom-dancing class and a sensuous display of flower arranging. Read more »

Review: Halcyon Days

October 11th, 2012 | Reviews

THE TITLE of Deirdre Kinahan’s new play does not refer to some golden-age of the past, but to the present moment of her touching drama, as a pair of ailing residents in a nursing home find friendship in their dying days. Sean is an actor stricken by dementia and a stoic acceptance that his life is over. Patricia is a former-teacher burdened by sudden strokes and a refusal to relinquish her independence. What brings them together is a shared love of the theatre, music, dance. What will rend them apart is their inescapable fate: their own mortality. Read more »

Review: Mouth Open, Story Jump Out

October 11th, 2012 | Reviews

WHAT IS the difference between a story and a lie? Ask Polarbear (real name Steven), raconteur extraordinaire. In this performance piece, making things up is the “best job in the world”. With just a few words, you can be transformed from a geek into a hero on a whim.

This is what Polarbear has been doing since he was 10 years old, when his father left and he was recruited to the Super League of Storytellers, which actually pays very well. Or that’s what he tells us anyway, although we are never quite sure if we can trust him. Read more »

Review: Mystery Magnet

October 9th, 2012 | Reviews

Samuel Beckett Theatre

TThere are many ways we could describe the tumbling and twisting imagery of Miet Warlop’s riotous spectacle for the Belgian company Campo, but none that don’t sound like dispatches from the middle of an acid trip. On a bare stage that resembles a gallery space, a preposterously rotund invigilator sits by a white wall, observed only by a figure whose head is the size of a planet, the texture of a mop, and precisely the same shade of pink as fairground candy floss. Read more »

Review: Hamlet

October 9th, 2012 | Reviews

O’Reilly Theatre

Hamlet is a play tormented by ghosts. “What, has this thing appeared again tonight?” asks one of Elsinore’s watchmen, safe in the knowledge that the spirit of Hamlet’s father will appear every night, or at least for as long as the production is running, commanding his son to avenge his foul murder. Each production is similarly haunted, laden with ghosts of performances past; with generations of supposedly unmatchable princes from Simon Russell Beale to Laurence Olivier to David Garrick. We’ll never know for sure, because theatre leaves little trace. You had to be there. Read more »

Review: Ha, Ha Ha

October 9th, 2012 | Reviews

The Ark

Good clowns never go out of fashion, even half-petrified dust-coated ones, and the chalky Belgian duo in Ha Ha Ha need nothing more than an old ball, a few empty boxes and a swinging door frame to win the hearts (and humours) of their audience of over-fours.

Performed by Xavier Bouvier and Benoit Devos, Ha Ha Ha is an hour of artful simplicity. Short scenes focus in on familiar circus feats – tumbles, juggling, slapstick – but each set-piece is made new by being stripped back to basics; a joyful paradox of accessible physical wonder in this over-stimulated, over-simulated age. Read more »

Review: The House That Jack Filled

October 4th, 2012 | Reviews

Project Arts Centre – Cube

MCNALLY’S HOTEL by the Sea is the setting for Finegan Kruckemeyer’s latest collaboration with Theatre Lovett. It is a “cosy, poky, falling-downy” type of place, but its owner Jack wouldn’t have it any other way. Built by his parents beside a “river as big as the sea”, it is his home, as well as his livelihood: or, as his father put it before he passed away, the hotel is in Jack’s blood.

But when the river dries up, so does the trickle of visitors who keep McNally’s going, and Jack is forced to reinvent himself as well as his hotel. What Kruckemeyer sets up as a Fawlty Towers-style farce is slowly revealed to have something more serious at stake.

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Review: Politik

October 4th, 2012 | Reviews

Samuel Beckett Theatre

WHAT CAN an individual do to effect political change? This is the question posed by The Company in Politik, an improvisational theatre game in which the audience is invited to participate. The performance begins with a manifesto about civic engagement in a modern democracy and political processes that are “alien to our daily lives”. In their quest for greater agency, the performers tell us, they tried and failed to join several political parties. So instead they decided to make a show in which the audience, as citizens, are allowed to take control of what happens on stage.

Under the supervising eye of director Jose Miguel Jimenez, Brian Bennett, Robert McDermott, Nyree Yergainharsian and Tanya Wilson enact a skeletal bank-heist scenario before handing directorial responsibility to us. Ciaran O’Melia provides a suggestive design – four defined but empty spaces where the action takes place – and the audience are encouraged to provide props and extra characters with chalk. They have free rein on content, but there is an inherent semiotic significance in the sites of action, which makes certain details easy to predict. Read more »

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

October 4th, 2012 | Reviews

Abbey Theatre

MOST PEOPLE will already be familiar with the dark, mysterious details. No matter how many years go by, or how debauched and insincere the actions become, the outward display remains handsomely unchanged. That, too frequently, is our experience of Oscar Wilde in revival, whose comedies are routinely embalmed in period frocks and crystal-cut epigrams while their souls seem to wither somewhere out of view.

The writer and director Neil Bartlett, whose first contemporary reappraisal of Wilde was his celebrated 1994 adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray for the Lyric, Hammersmith, has long been aware of the challenge. Lean too heavily on Wilde’s surface and you dishonour the subtext; make his subtext explicit and you lose its subversion.


Mirror, mirror on the wall: Frank McCusker and Tom Canton Read more »

Hot shows, cheap tickets and mysterious faces

October 3rd, 2012 | Laurence Mackin

There’s just time to take a breath before the weekend is upon us, and the second major tranche of opening nights in this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival fills up the evenings.

So far, the reviews have definitely been on the positive side: Tristan and Isolde got this paper’s only five-star endorsement, The Boys of Foley Street looks to have capped Anu Productions’ Monto cycle in impressive style, and Elevator Repair Service followed up their groundbreaking Gatz with a terrific take on Hemingway.

One element of the festival that has yet to materialise is Public Face III. This giant neon smiley face was supposed to light up the Dublin skyline, but, owing to “unresolved technical challenges”, it has yet to make its Dublin debut (rumours that the producers are frantically looking for a giant two-pin to three-pin convertor are said to be wide of the mark). The festival is still trying to make this project happen, and are reluctant to commit to a date for it or, indeed, reveal where it is hopefully going to be installed. Watch this space then – wherever it is.

In the mean time, here’s one someone else prepared earlier and elsewhere.

Back to the shows you can see, and ticket sales have proved particularly strong this year – for those of you still to commit, tickets are almost sold out for the following shows:
The Boys of Foley Street; The Talk of the Town; Hamlet; Have I No Mouth; Eternal Rising of the Sun and The House that Jack Filled. So if you want to see any of those shows, click over this direction.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for Final Call tickets. The festival is offering a very limited number of €10 tickets for some shows on a given evening, usually between 4pm and 6pm. Keep an eye on the webstite or call into the festival box office in person to snap up whatever is available.

Review: The Last Summer

October 3rd, 2012 | festivalhub

NOSTALGIA IS like a grammar lesson, observed the poet Owens Lee Pomeroy: you find the present tense and the past perfect. A similar kind of parsing takes place in Declan Hughes’ new play for the Gate Theatre, divided between one summer day, thrumming with possibility, in 1977, and another, precisely 30 years later, when the good times are about to come crashing down.

Here, the past may indeed be another country, a place of streaming sunlight and halcyon haze, where four south Dublin school-leavers and band mates busily make plans for the evening (staging a rock concert, participating in a fateful brawl, getting laid) and, with less urgency, their lives. Meanwhile, 2007 hosts a more fraught reunion of unresolved tensions and one absent friend.

Read more »

Review: The 14th Tale

October 3rd, 2012 | festivalhub

Project Arts Centre – Cube

Is that blood on Inua Ellams’s white T-shirt? Even though it looks suspiciously like red paint, the dark stain visible on the writer/performer’s clothes seems to foreshadow violence from the opening minutes.

In an hour-long piece, presented by the London-based Fuel theatre company, this playful performance poet teases the audience with his intricately laced monologue. A sequence of autobiographical sketches takes him from his Nigerian childhood to a London classroom, then to the streets of Dublin, circling back at intervals to a moment where he sits jumpily in a hospital emergency room, awaiting news.

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Review: The Talk of the Town

October 2nd, 2012 | festivalhub

WITH THE martini-dry wit that befits a 1950s staff writer at the New Yorker, Maeve Brennan saw the end coming. “She died,” reports Catherine Walker’s elegant sylph, alone and wreathed in cigarette smoke. “She shot herself in the back with the aid of a small hand-mirror.” Brennan’s dark fantasy, written during her years of writer’s block, invites a sadder reflection: a brilliant and independent spirit, she died in obscurity following years of psychological disarray.

Concentrating on a decade in Brennan’s life in New York, with flashbacks to her Dublin childhood, Emma Donoghue’s biographical drama for Hatch Theatre Company, Landmark Productions and Dublin Theatre Festival honours Brennan’s verve, the haunted elegance of her prose and the agitated circumstances of its creation, all of which Walker beautifully combines. Like Brennan, though, it has two sides that it cannot easily reconcile, tugged between locations, between truth and fiction. Read more »

Review: Everyone is King Lear in His Own Home

October 2nd, 2012 | festivalhub

Smock Alley Theatre

King Lear is given a postmodern makeover by Pan Pan Theatre in Everybody is King Lear in His Own Home. But Shakespeareüs text is just one of the fragments in director Gavin Quinn’s collage, which juxtaposes high and low cultural references with pointed self-consciousness. Lear’s soliloquies are intercut with muted scenes from SpongeBob SquarePants, fart jokes counterbalance the impending sense of tragedy, and the DVDs on the bookshelves, in case you are wondering, include Kung Fu Panda and Ken Loach’s Kes, as performer Judith Roddy deliberately illuminates. Read more »

Review: Tristan und Isolde

October 1st, 2012 | festivalhub

Bord Gais Energy Theatre

IT WAS the quick-witted Rossini who suggested that Wagner has good moments but bad quarters of an hour. And, to be fair, the passing of time can become a real issue when a Wagner performance is not going well. As another sharp commentator pointed, there are time-filling issues for the singers, too. “Not appearing ridiculous,” wrote Virgil Thomson, “while they stand around waiting for their emotions to be described by the orchestra has always been the acting problem of Wagnerian singers.”


‘A triumph all round’: Tristan und Isolde

Yes, there is killing in Tristan und Isolde. But violent death seems almost incidental in the opera’s scheme of the inevitable. We’re dealing with impossible love, at first unwelcome and resisted, then, courtesy of a love-potion, as full-on as you can imagine. What the singers do is think out loud, and emote. And it takes four hours of music to reach the final death and transfiguration. Read more »

Review: White

September 30th, 2012 | Reviews

The Ark

Imagine a life without colour? Well Wrinkle and Cotton are custodians of such a place; a soft monochrome universe that is the world of White. The happy pair perform their daily rituals with studied care. They brush their teeth, share breakfast, give their nests a thorough dusting, and police the borders for any sign of red or green or blue, which might disrupt the peaceful calm of their snow-white home.

Created by Andy Manley, White is as playful and as serious as one of Beckett’s terse mime plays. In Gill Robertson’s superb production, the clowning makes clever, subtle use of the actor’s opposing physicalities: Sean Hay’s lanky loping and Ross Allan’s stockier bumbling. Manley imposes a natural hierarchy upon them, but it is the curiosity of the childlike Cotton that eventually shifts the dynamic. As he lets a single splash of joyful colour into their world, the pair realise what they have been missing, and soon an explosion of light and shade changes everything. Read more »