Pursued by a Bear »

  • The winners . . .

    September 23, 2008 @ 2:04 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Here they are folks, the winners and contenders for this year’s Fringe Awards. Were they yours? 

    Spirit of the Fringe Commissioning Award – €4,000

    Presented in association with Project Arts Centre to the company that best embodies the Spirit of the Fringe – fresh, brave and exciting. The prize is a €4000 commissioning grant for a new show to be produced for the Dublin Fringe Festival 2008 in Project Cube. Usually presented to an Irish company.

    The Woman Who Left Herself, Jouissance Productions
    Other Nominees
    Bouffon Glass Menajoree (Ten Directions)
    Etiquette (Rotozaza)
    Rock Paper Scissors (RYT Performance Lab)
    Pinocchio (Silvia Mercuriali and Gemma Brockis)
    Best Production – €750
    Presented to the show or event that displays excellence in every area of production.

    Susan and Darren, Quarantine
    Other Nominees
    Grasping the Floor with the Back of my Head (Mute Company)
    War of the Roses (Whiplash)
    Polaroid (Jo Stromgron Kompani)
    Bygones (Ingun Bjornsgaard Prosjekt)
    Best Design – €500
    For outstanding lighting, set, sound, costume and/or graphic design and is the only theatre award in Ireland to acknowledge sound and design.

    The Four Horsemen, Volcano – Overall design
    Other Nominees
    Chronicles of a Sleepless Moon (overall design, Suitcase Royale)
    Tundra (lighting design by Conleth White)

    Bewleys Cafe Theatre Award – €500
    This new award is presented to the best Irish fringe show under an hour. The prize is the opportunity to remount the show in Bewley’s for a two-week run at lunch time in 2008.

    Luck, Making Strange Theatre Company
    Other Nominees
    The Common Will from Painted Filly Theatre Company
    Love 2.0 from thisispopbaby
    La Voix Humaine from Randolf SD I The Company
    Life After Love by Billie Traynor
    Fishamble New Writing Award
    Presented to the best play by a new or emerging Irish (or Irish-based) playwright premiered during the Fringe. The prize includes a scholarship place on a playwriting course, dramaturgical support and a €1000 stipend towards the playwright’s next play.

    Elaine Murphy, Little Gem
    Other Nominees
    Phillip McMahon and Belinda McKeon (Love 2.0)
    Jody O’Neill (They Never Froze Walt Disney)
    Lawrie Pendlebury (Thicker Than Water)
    Best Male Performer – €500

    Raymond Scannell, Mimic
    Other Nominees
    Joseph Keckler (Cat Lady)
    Robbie O’Connor (Rock Paper Scissors)
    Karl Quinn (All in the Timing)
    Daniel Costello (Appointment in Limbo)
    Best Female Performer – €500

    Anita Reeves, Hilda Fay, Aoife Duffin (Little Gem)

    Other Nominees
    Ana Schmidt (IDentity dFragments)
    Saori Tsukada (Saori’s Birthday)
    Germana Civera (The Forest)
    Sigrid Husjord Og Valravin (Grasping the floor with the Back of my Head)
    Best Spiegeltent Show
    To the best night in the tent, or to the best performer in the tent over the 16 nights. Not including La Clique.

    Cathy Davey, Songs that scare children (but in a very beautiful way), presented by Hum and Aiken Promotions
    Other Nominees
    The Fall, presented by Crawdaddy
    An Evening with Fujiya and Miyagi, presented by Steo da Cat

    Culture Ireland Touring Award – €5,000

    Drinking Dust, Junk Ensemble

  • Speaking of stars . . .

    September 20, 2008 @ 11:15 am | by Fiona McCann

    susananddarren.jpgAnyone see Susan and Darren? The most heartwarming, vein-thrumming, uplifting show of this Fringe, for this reviewer at least. The eponymous mother and son stayed with me long after the strains of Barry White had faded (which takes some time, given that the deep voiced crooner has a show-stopping moment half-way through). It was the kind of affecting human drama that makes up for any one-star moments, and reminds audiences of why festivals like the Fringe are so important.

  • What is the star?

    September 18, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | by Fiona McCann

    star1.jpg This Fringe has so far proved a pretty mixed bag, with some great shows (Etiquette, Pinocchio and Equilibre spring to mind), alongside some serious duds. But that’s just my opinion, ain’t it? Reviewing is a subjective game but it still seems quite an amount of shows have been reduced to single stardom in the Irish Times rating system (which, by the way, is an Irish Times euphimism for plain old “bad”, in case there was any ambiguity). These include Mad Mabe, The Cat’s Miaow Part II, and City Breaks. Is this kind of shorthand fair to productions and cast, and does anyone feel the reviewers, myself included, were wrong? If so, line up folks because here’s your chance to realign the constellations.

  • Fringe food

    September 16, 2008 @ 4:13 pm | by Fiona McCann

    I’m not dissing the sausages, Lord knows, nor is this any reflection on the two delightful German gents manning the ever-popular sausage stand, but maaan, those pizzas. How do they make ‘em so delightfully doughy? It’s a slightly expanded snack selection this year at the Iveagh Gardens, and a very pleasant dining environment under the trees. Cheesy pretzels were a little controversial for my tastes, though, Fringe or no Fringe. How are yizzer bellies finding this year’s fine festival fare?

  • Paranoid

    @ 10:07 am | by Fiona McCann

    From today’s paper, my review of Paranoid: “There is something effectively cold-sweat-inducing about receiving a Saturday-night text message to confirm a secret meeting place the following afternoon in the city centre for a Fringe performance, with the addition of: “Paranoid? You should be.”

    Factor in the show’s proviso, that anyone you meet over the 90 minutes of Paranoia may be in on the act, and you’re guaranteed clammy palms and a mind ripe for messing with. Despite that, and for all its convincing performances and quirky set pieces, Paranoid ultimately squanders the excitement of its mysterious set-up. While the premise – the sole audience member is taken through Dublin’s streets without any warning of what’s around the next corner – is novel and compelling, the theatrical strands fail to come together to produce any coherent whole, or even the promised, and by the end of the show, strangely desirable, state of paranoia.”

  • Infinite Jester

    September 15, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Another off-fringe post, this time on the late David Foster Wallace. I haven’t read Infinite Jest, but it is a book very dear to someone very dear to me, and I didn’t want the news of Foster Wallace’s death to go unmarked here. The New York Times described him as ”a writer of virtuosic talents who can seemingly do anything.” It’s disappointing to know he won’t be doing anything else.

  • Digger dance

    September 14, 2008 @ 1:21 am | by Fiona McCann

    If you didn’t catch one of the four performances of Equilibre in Grand Canal Square, you may find it hard to believe that a JCB can be graceful. More than graceful, in fact: feminine, evocative, and even, in its sweeps and coy twirls, sexy. Yep, that’s what I said. Sexy. The Fringe has gone turned my head, clearly. But I stand over what I say: a mechanical digger was, for the length of a few short arias that filled up this wide open new Dublin space, sexy, or made so through some anthropomorphic feat in a balletic duet  that was unexplainably uplifting on a Saturday afternoon. Imagine what a combine harvester would have done to me . . .

  • Urban antics

    September 13, 2008 @ 2:12 am | by Fiona McCann

    Forget performance: Those at the Antics Rogue Show provide a valuable service to all comers, or at least all arriving with an unloved painting and a ticket. The art “collectors” (or audience, if you prefer) stand around, helpless, as their wishy washy watercolours are transformed into urban art  by Will St. Leger and his team of kerchiefed artists. The finished pieces are all returned to their original owners who then get to emerge from the convincingly dodgy alley with added street cred under their arms. Recommended.

  • Audience participants, applaud yourselves.

    September 12, 2008 @ 11:40 am | by Fiona McCann

    Anyone miss being a passive theatre-goer? Are they over, then, the days of sitting back and letting the entertainment come to you, with the only participation required a few flutterings of applause and the occasional titter?

    Perhaps not over, but certainly on hold for the duration of the Fringe, taking as it does the whole concept of audience participation to new levels. Amy G encourages her audience to, in the parlance of those across the Atlantic, ”make out”, Exposure audiences have to take their own pictures, while those attending Etiquette (which, might I add, is a delightful way to spend a half hour) are the sole actors in the entire performance.

    So what, now we’re shelling out to watch ourselves perform? Or is this best the way to maximise enjoyment for an audience bored with numb bums on seats?

  • Don’t like Mundys

    September 11, 2008 @ 5:21 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Two commenters here were so eager to vent their spleen about Love And Other Disguises that they did so under a Cathy Davey post. “Unfunny and cliched”, “unconvincing” and “I couldn’t wait for the whole thing to be over.” Talk about ambiguous. Still, the thing was sold out last night, and apparently at the Galway Arts Festival last year as well, so somebody must be liking it. If so, who are you? Stand up and explain yourselves.

  • Saori’s Birthday

    @ 10:27 am | by Fiona McCann

    When John Moran rolls a show into town, you feel kind of culturally compelled to check it out.

    One-time protégée of Philip Glass, this American composer has worked with the likes of Uma Thurman and Iggy Pop over the years (ha! you don’t often get to lump those two together), but seems to have found a whole new muse in the astoundingly precise movements of dancer Saori Tsukada. Yep, she’s the Saori of this show’s birthday fame, and her interpretation of his layered, at times head-explodingly repititous soundtrack is close to flawless.

    So what’s it all about? You know, the fulitity of human existence, pain, abandoment, that sort of stuff. Never been done before, right? OK, but maybe it’s never been done quite like this. Leave all expectations of a coherent narrative at the door, and don’t go if you’re feeling fragile, and especially not if it’s your birthday, because this ain’t the kind of party where they serve you rice-krispie buns and play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Otherwise, see it, hear it, tell me what you think.

  • Booker aside

    September 10, 2008 @ 1:45 pm | by Fiona McCann

    OK, it’s not Fringe-related, I know, but some people just can’t let the publication of a Booker shortlist go by without comment. Not only did Irish lad Sebastian Barry get the nod again, this time over former winner Salman Rushdie, but the list also includes two books of over 700 pages, two first novels, two Brits, two Indians and one Australian. Oh, and six novels I haven’t yet read, but hope to before the winner is announced on October 14th. I’ll keep y’all posted (I can tell you’re on the edges of yizzer seats), but in the meantime, here’s an interesting piece about Booker judging over the years as a little antidote to Fringosity. 

    Early predictions welcome, if not taken altogether seriously.

  • What our reviewer said about Cathy Davey

    @ 10:40 am | by Fiona McCann

    Here’s Siobhan Long’s take, published in today’s paper: “Remember that desolate, skin-crawling childhood terror when seemingly innocuous stories and songs lodge deep in our imaginations? Cathy Davey and her lurid conglomerate of fellow one-time-children (including Lisa Hannigan, Carla Gallagher, David Turpin and Conor O’Brien) conjured a world of stardust and fairytales made of Cole Porter, Hans Christian Andersen and Rogers and Hammerstein, with a compelling atmosphere of impending doom in their arrangements. Davey’s baby-doll vocals were an intriguing mix of Marilyn Monroe, Bernadette Peters and Jane Siberry, and her charismatic composure anchored a fantasia that was largely irresistible.

    Even the occasional creaky vocal didn’t dampen the spooky spirits. As with Hal Willner’s Rogues Gallery, fingers crossed that this raggle-taggle gathering doesn’t disperse just yet.”

  • Perplexed by the programme?

    @ 10:10 am | by Fiona McCann

    You’re not the only one. It certainly looks impressive, and most Fringesque in its luminosity and layout, but can anyone actually read the darn thing? Is that even the point? Tiny type, confusing categories and a bit too much flicking back and forth, say some. Too big and cumbersome and not portable enough, say others, though given that they work for the Irish Times, they haven’t much of a leg to stand on. . .

    Me, I’m liking the mix of page textures, but the pink highlighter marker reminds me a little too much of my Leaving Cert notes, and so much of it seems to kind of defeat the purpose. Although is that the concept, with functionality irrelevant to the whole Fringe thing? Does anyone care?

  • Curses

    September 9, 2008 @ 12:32 pm | by Fiona McCann

    The problem with the Fringe is that there’s so much going on, you just can’t take it all in. That said, it was a real oversight to allow an evening’s rest to get in the way of last night’s Songs That Scare Children by the wondrous Cathy Davey. Anyone catch it?

  • Amy G-string

    September 8, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | by Fiona McCann

    amyg1.jpgNot to make knickers the theme here, but anyone who takes her final bow with three pairs around her ankles deserves a mention. This New Yorker – seen last year in La Clique – is back with her own show in the welcome new Bosco theatre (no relation to the ginger lad we all grew up with), bringing a spectacular voice, a theatrical face, a bass player and a pair of rollerskates.  

    Her act Round She Goes may be a little raggy in places, but Amy G is an out and out star, and in total command of an audience mesmerised by her rollerjinks. Ok, she may not change your life but she will make you laugh and provide you with an hour-odd’s entertainment for the very reasonable price of 15 quid. She’s also, frankly, drop dead gorgeous which in no way takes away from her talent but is worth a mention if only to bring more punters in to witness her deserving performance.

    Anyone see her? If not, stop reading because the following may contain spoilers: any comments on her kazoo in the wazoo routine? Was it a tad Carry On Kazooing, or am I just not sufficiently Fringe? Are y’all ready for this jelly?

  • La Clique kick-off

    @ 5:25 pm | by Fiona McCann

    A woman set fire to her knickers, a man dislocated his shoulder – deliberately, I might add – to fit himself through a tennis racquet, and another played piano while standing on his head: not a bad start for this year’s Fringe Festival, which kicked off Saturday night with La Clique.

    This carnivalesque collection of wacky acts was the big hit of last year’s Fringe, and many of the same delightful faces have returned:  Captain Frodo is still charmingly bendy, David O’Mer is still rippling his torso in a porcelain bath, and the English Gents are still hoisting each other into the air on their little fingers without taking their eyes of the Financial Times.

    So what’s different? Mario, Queen of the Circus, for one, who juggles and unicycles to Queen songs, Michaelangelo, who replaces Camille O’Sullivan as the in-between singer (does he fill her shoes? Those shoes? I don’t think so!) and Ursula Martinez, who would make handkerchiefs disappear up her sleeve, if she weren’t entirely devoid of sleeves or any other form of clothing. There are also a few updates on last year’s acts: the English Gents have introduced a bit of local colour to their act, but that’s all we can reveal.

    If you missed it last year, go. If you saw it last year, you won’t need much persuading to go again. Quirky circusry with lots of fun to launch what’s shaping up to be another highly entertaining Fringe season. Oh, and the Docklands are so last year: this year’s hub is the Iveagh Gardens, making for a much more picturesque and party feeling, and that’s from a Northside habitual.

    Your comments, please. Anyone? Bueller?

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