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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: August 16, 2011 @ 5:42 pm

    Guest post: Cutting edge Cavan town

    Laurence Mackin


    Pop quiz: Where is the most vibrant and multifaceted arts event taking place this week? More than likely, the answer is Cavan town, this week hosting its second Fleadh. For far too many people, the words Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann conjure images of duelling fiddlers, marching bands and moppet-haired dancers, but anyone who experienced last year’s extraordinary festival in Cavan will testify that the Fleadh is about a lot more than mere dancing competitions and ubiquitous trad sessions – it’s a unique sort of week that celebrates not just Irish music and dance, but also finds room for the visual arts, drama and even a lecture series. If you can make it along over the next few days, you won’t be disappointed.

    At the heart of the town’s burgeoning arts scene is the Gonzo Theatre, and founder Philip Doherty is adding hugely to the Fleadh vibe with his hilarious play Fleadh Town, running in the Gonzo’s space above the Imperial Bar on Main Street this week.

    It’s a rambunctious, gloriously profane piece of work, with six actors playing more than 60 characters in a series of ratatat vignettes. What at first feels like a series of well-observed sketches about the run-up to last year’s Fleadh gradually coalesces into a sprawling, interlinked and intricately constructed portrait of a small community coping with a big, big event landing on its door step.

    It’s wildly ambitious – think Short Cuts meets Judd Apatow meets Conversations on a Homecoming – and while it’s occasionally hit and miss, it’s no more so than the average Will Ferrell vehicle, say.

    Between the ingenious plotting, razor-sharp writing and extraordinarily energetic performances from the six actors, this is an impressive achievement, topped off with a trippy, hysterical video cameo from Cavan’s accordion hero Martin Donohue. Confirmation that Philip Doherty is a talent worth keeping an eye on. Check out the trailer for a taste of the Fleadh.

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