Pursued by a Bear »

  • We’re back – and we have the theatrical scars to prove it

    October 16, 2012 @ 5:29 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    The arts blog has been on hiatus for the past few weeks, while dealing with the Absolut Fringe and, more recently, the Dublin Theatre Festival, over on the Festival Hub blog. We’re now wrapping the Hub up in its velvet curtains and carefully storing it for future use, but before we do, here’s one last look at the past few weeks’ activity.

    I finished my festival season with the DruidMurphy cycle – and what a way to end more than a month of productions. This was a superlative series of shows, with hardly a chink in its armour, and proved again that Druid and Tom Murphy are in a class of their own. (more…)

  • What the arts can learn from football

    August 25, 2010 @ 12:15 pm | by Laurence Mackin

    Tonight sees A Dream Play by August Strindberg open at the Peacock Theatre. It’s got a heavyweight production crew behind it, with Jimmy Fay calling the directorial shots with a pared-back Caryl Churchill script in hand. (more…)

  • When did this place get so lively?

    August 5, 2010 @ 11:02 am | by Laurence Mackin

    Has Dublin always been this active? I only ask, because in the past week here’s what I’ve managed to see. Last Friday, there was a cracking gig in the gloriously ramshackle surroundings of the Joinery gallery in Stoneybatter, where, for the princely sum of ¤8 you got four performances, from a solo jazz drum and electronics set and some quality rock and roll, to a blissfully moody improv set from the Buzz Aldrin Allstars featuring members of Adrian Crowley’s band, Halfset and 3epkano. (more…)

  • The Importance of Being Mrs Bartlett

    June 10, 2010 @ 3:43 pm | by Fiona McCann

    I attended the glitzorama opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest on Tuesday, and spotted not only Coco from Fame in the row across from me, but sitting pretty in a box in the upper corner of my eye was none other than the living doll himself, Sir Cliff Richard. It was all a perfect ‘sleb-spotting setting for a Wildean drama about ridiculous social mores, though even the ripples Sir Cliff caused by his mere appearance were nothing compared to the tidal waves of anticipation for Lady Bracknell - a.k.a. Stockard Channing – to take the stage. Alas, as Peter Crawley put it in today’s Irish Times, “her aura precedes her, but in the flesh she seems muted, less acid, adequate in the role without relishing it”.  While there were moments of particularly well-timed facial expressions, Channing did not command the stage as La Bracknell really ought to, her voice failing to project on a level with her fellow cast members, which was particularly irksome for those, unlike Sir Cilff and his ilk, seated in the cheaper seats. The two Rorys – Keenan and Nolan – acquitted themselves admirably as the competing Earnests of the title, but the real star of the show turned out to be Eleanor Methven, whose comic turn as Ms Prism brought fresh humour to even the most familiar lines. If anyone saw her in Strandline last year, in which she scared the living daylights out of me at least, they’d be staggered at the transformation. Highlights: Miss Prism, Merriman’s moment on rollerskates, and those delightful, head-swamping hats.

  • Sodome, My Love

    March 18, 2010 @ 6:45 pm | by Fiona McCann

    There is something powerful at work in Rough Magic’s Sodome, My Love, a kind of theatricality that makes the most of stage and sound to communicate what works best when interpreted as a simple narrative. Olwen Fouéré is magnetic as the last daughter of Sodom, rising from her salty grave to recast her city as a lost civilisation of pleasure and beauty, rather than a place of perversion and sin. She bears witness to the events that brought about her city’s downfall, a city destroyed by trust and temptation: It is in welcoming an emissary from their enemies who carries with him the seeds of contagion that the citizens of Sodom seal their own downfall. Their story is told in Fouéré’s own translation from the Laurent Gaudé original, and the result is a language that is lyrical and haunting. “I was killing you whilst I greeted you,” the emissary tells those he has come to destroy. Fouéré commands the space and the story with physical force under Lynne Parker’s direction, though something falls away in an ending which draws an unconvincing line between the fate of Sodom and a highly sexualised modern Ireland. Still, Fouéré’s performance and the haunting urban visuals that flicker against a sparse and stunning set retain a resonance that transcends these final moments. For a second opinion, have a look at what Peter Crawley had to say. Sodome, My Love runs at the Project Arts Centre until March 27.

  • Irish Times Theatre Awards

    January 27, 2010 @ 12:13 pm | by Fiona McCann

    There’s been some kerfuffle about the nominations for the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2009,  with all manner of cyber mutterings, some measured comment and some, perhaps predictable, outrage – it is an awards list, after all. “This was our reflection of what was most memorable and what was of the highest artistic standard,” was how Sara Keating defended the nominations by the three judges, who saw hundreds of shows between them over the course of last year. Yet still these choices seem to have raised the hackles of those who query ommissions or quibble with inclusions. So what is it about these nominations that has so many tongues wagging in the theatre world? This blog is open for comment: have your say.

  • How did he do it?

    December 1, 2009 @ 12:03 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Come up with the Ten Commandments, I mean. Because limiting myself to the ten most influential books of the noughties was a fierce challenge altogether, the results of which will be made known in tomorrow’s Irish Times. Many thanks to all the suggestions and contributions: I have been strict in adhering to the caveat that the final inclusions must have been published within the decade, which meant we had to chuck out Dreams of my Father and Harry Potter, both of which made their first appearances in the nineties. But while you’ve all been ruminating on books, I’ve been catching up on other arts, notably Strandline at the Project, the new Abbie Spallen play. Set in a small coastal village in Northern Ireland, this is a play about secrets and lies, perhaps a fitting theme for our times given all that’s been revealed about the church of late. A cracking cast works hard to play with shifting audience sympathies against a fittingly cold and stylish set by Sabine Dargent. Looms loom (yes, I  have waited some years to be able to say that), and dialogue crackles, while Fiona Bell plays the best stage drunk I’ve seen in quite some time. Here’s what Peter Crawley had to say about it, and if you’re convinced, you’ve got till Saturday to catch it. If Strandline doesn’t float your boat (SWIDT?), then this week’s highly recommended movie must is Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. Beautifully shot, achingly suspenseful, fittingly slow-paced and with incredible performances elicited from a cast of fabulous faces (yes yes, actors, I know, but the close-ups are expressive and hauntingly memorable), this film leaves the viewer with a myriad of questions, and a discomfort reflective of life’s eternal failure to tie things up satisfactorily. Go. See. It.

  • Heart of Darkness

    June 29, 2009 @ 8:08 am | by Fiona McCann

    Got five and a half hours to spare and a soft spot for Joseph Conrad? Then mosey down to The Joinery on Arbour Hill on July 9th, where Gavin Kostick will be giving his acclaimed performance of the entire and complete text of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. How can it possibly work? How can an audience be sustained through a five and a half hour performance, let alone Kostick himself? I’m curious, and if you are too, there are further details here. The horror, the horror . . .

  • Youth is wasted . . .

    June 19, 2009 @ 4:19 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Youth is wasted, alright, on pot, cocaine and occasional speedballs in This Is Our Youth, the latest Bedrock production, which opened last night at The Cube in the Project Arts Centre. Written by Kenneth Lonergan (who also wrote You Can Count On Me and Analyze This, and co-wrote Gangs of New York) and directed by the gem that is Jimmy Fay, the play revolves around three college-age American kids living on Manhattan’s Upper Westside during the early Reagan days. Dennis, Warren (played by Mark Ruffalo in the play’s first production back in 1996, and here with winning intensity by Ciaran O’Brien) and Jessica are disaffected rich kids looking for direction/attention/affection/the next high, and the play explores 48 hours in their city slacker lives. It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s superbly scripted and apart from the occasional accent slippage, contains some gutsy, potent performances and convincing chemistry sparking between O’Brien’s Warren and Charlie Murphy’s Jessica. Plus it’s a hoot: you should, like, totally check it out.

  • Update

    April 9, 2009 @ 9:51 am | by Fiona McCann

    Reading: Molly Fox’s Birthday, by Deirdre Madden, having just finished The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga (a pacey rags to riches story with a twist, giving frightening insight into India. It’s an accomplished debut, and though it lacks the weight and wonder that marks a book out for generations to come, it’s still worth a read), and Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson (beautifully gentle, crafted story that rings of loss and strange connections).

     Watching: Lots. I’ve been on a lot of flights. Saw Benjamin Button – meh. Though Mr Gateau’s rewinding clock was touching and effective, and there were some gigglish struck-by-lightening scenes, the rest was more of the same overwrought, emotive gum that’s getting churned out at a great rate of late, achieving its tear-jerking aim only through the boredom that resulted from watching three-odd hours of it. Also Revolutionary Road – not bad, though hard to separate from the book, which, unsurprisingly was better. And snippets of Australia, which is not the kind of film to watch on a six-inch screen.

    Attended: The opening night of All My Sons at the Gate. It’s a timely production of a play with an alarming contemporary resonance, that deals, as Arthur Miller often does, with the moral choices faced by men in a world where money maketh the man. The Gate production is a straight-up affair, allowing Miller’s text to do its thing, to play out the stories of ordinary Americans in a moral, human context. Len Cariou is powerful as Joe Keller (in one exhausting, emotionally-charged scene he seizes, electrically) , Barbara Brennan is emotionally fierce as Kate, Peter Gaynor is compelling as George Deever and while the other performances don’t quite meet the measure of these three, it still makes for some gripping, lingering moments. Read Peter Crawley’s review here.

     Missed: David Byrne on Monday. Don’t want to talk about it.

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