Dublin Fringe reviews: “A brilliant show I never want to suffer through again”

The latest Dublin Fringe festival reviews, featuring Release the Baboons, The Humours of Bandon and To Hell in a Handbag

 

RELEASE THE BABOONS ★★★★
The New Theatre
Full disclosure. In the opening minutes of Paul Currie’s Dadaist pep rally, I was singled out for insufficiently vigorous audience participation, for resting my chin on my hand and (fair cop, this) for being a potential reviewer. Ever wary of the attention swinging back in my direction - which it did repeatedly - I went on to endure the most excruciating 60 minutes I have ever experienced in a public place.

Oh well. “It’s not for everyone,” Currie, a tall northerner with many yards of beard, twice whispered in a voice plausibly flavoured with despair. For those prepared to be “good sports”, Release the Baboons will feel like a work of collaborative genius (with you as one of the collaborators). Half revivalist preacher, half embarrassing street lunatic, Currie cajoles his audience through a loosely connected string of sketches – bread fight, airport security, dragon ride – that artfully showcase his undoubted gifts as physical comedian. The compliant will think themselves at the best party ever. A repressed minority (ahem) will smile as they might smile at a captor making his daily visit to the soundproof basement. A brilliant show I never want to suffer through again.
Until Sept 17
Donald Clarke

THE HUMOURS OF BANDON ★★★★
Bewley’s Café Theatre @ Powerscourt
A story about the trials and triumphs of competitive dancing, Margaret McAuliffe’s terrific one woman show is not so much Strictly Ballroom as Strictly Feis. Writer and actor McAuliffe plays a Dublin teenager whose quest to be a champion Irish dancer provides the canvas for a vivid portrait of a world far removed from the showbiz glitz of Riverdance. Amid nicely observed vignettes about the icky toilets, subtle mind games and opaque scoring methods of youthful dance contests, McAuliffe portrays a whole range of vivid supporting characters, while spinning a tale of a young woman finding her feet, so to speak. Under the direction of Stefanie Preissner, both writing and performance are by turns sharp, charming and hilarious, evoking the jealousies and joys of Irish dancing, right down to the final piece of choreography. All round, a champion turn.
Until Sept 24
Mick Heaney

TO HELL IN A HANDBAG ★★★★
Bewley’s Café Theatre @ Powerscourt
It takes guts to attach a new piece of theatre to the funniest play ever written. But Helen Norton and Jonathan White, actors and writers, have pulled off a coup with their enchanting visit to the outer rim of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Remembering a famous Tom Stoppard piece, we might call it ‘Canon Chasuble and Miss Prism are Dead’.

Most of the action takes place on the same day as the last act of Wilde’s play. In between arrangements for adult Christenings, the fussy churchman and the romantically inclined governess reveal hidden lives, imposed on them by the pressures of Victorian economics. White’s Pooterish Chasuble, delightfully rendered in shades of ecclesiastic grey, seems to have merely stumbled into guilty deceit. In contrast, the impressively sharp Norton – whose fluting vowels suggest Edith Evans as much as they do Margaret Rutherford – exposes Miss Prism as a veritable maestro of deception.

Played out before an inevitable houseplant, To Hell in a Handbag packs extraordinary amounts of plot and top-notch gags into a compact package. Stay focussed for an excellent pun involving a town in Offaly.
Until Sept 24
Donald Clarke

- The Tiger Fringe festival in Dublin runs until September 25th. See fringefest.com. Reviews continue daily through the festival at irishtimes.com/culture

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