Irish Timeswriters review a selection of Fringe events
BALLET RUSE *****
Emma O’Kane and Muirne Bloomer set out to create a dance about dating, but as soon as they got into the rehearsal studio all of their old ballet foibles returned. And so here’s Ballet Ruse, a slickly-produced duet that makes fun of the stuffy conventions of ballet (and themselves) while exposing some of the raw truths behind their training.
Confessions of bulimia and abusive teaching cut through the good humoured jinks, but in spite of the disbelief and regret at their past there remains a warm sense of respect for ballet. There’s lots of attention to detail, but even if you don’t get the in-jokes the exuberant performance has enough vim and fizz — and near-perfect comic timing — to raise lots of laughs.
Runs until Saturday
– Michael Seaver
SHANE BYRNE LEFT HIS SLEEPING BAG IN THE CAR AGAIN ***
Smock Alley Studio
How are your wilderness survival skills? Can you pitch a tent (presuming you didn’t leave it in the car), lash timber together, build a fire? Shane Byrne learned these skills and more in the scouts. In his 60-minute show he recruits the audience for a poignant look back at his “favourite social network”. But, he has to acknowledge sadly, “when you try and relive your favourite moments, it doesn’t work because they’re over”.
Byrne dashes energetically from tent (so he didn’t forget it) to guitar to table doubling as a cliff, presenting a nostalgic hymn to an organisation that made him feel welcome and accepted as well as teaching him how to cook a charred dinner over a campfire.
Nevertheless, the brave vulnerability and witty informality of the show sometimes descend into chaos, his words tumbling out too quickly, softly and incoherently to follow. A bit more stagecraft, as well as scout skills, and the show gets a merit badge.
Runs until Friday
– Christine Madden
MIRANDA SINGS ***
Absolut Fringe Factory
It’s something of a surprise to discover that Miranda Sings, whose name alone might fall foul of the Trade Descriptions Act, actually exists.
Everything about this internet superstar – those windscreen-wiper eyebrows, that lipstick-smeared pout, the voice that even Auto-Tune couldn’t tame – suggests a creation confined to cyberspace; a persona that is pixelated, glitchy and viral.
It’s a joke that has developed a life of its own, though, a parody of countless bedroom divas dashed off by Colleen Ballinger which has now been given flesh and a career. Miraculously, the gag is just about sustained through various crimes against musical theatre, pop and, um, opera (her favourite is “Phantom”), while Miranda reads out her loopy (and often equally ironic) hate mail and imparts sage performance advice to several professional guests, including a game James O’Neill and Karen Egan. The pitch-imperfect winner of a Miranda impersonation contest also shows up, proving the comedy is similarly one-note. But as her legion of Mirfandas will merrily tell you, “Haters, back off!”
– Peter Crawley
A man perches on a paper stack typing, as reams of coloured ribbons stretch across the room. This is Will, a poet, and these are possibly the strands of his chaotic life.
He loves Lily, but then meets Emily, followed by her sister Sophie, beginning a complicated romantic triptych. To Sophie, he is Will; to Emily, he is Soh, a soubriquet that plays with the idea of identity and who we say we are. George Watt, (a stentorian Pádraig Murray) is a radio announcer and father to both daughters.
But Will/Soh’s insistent burrowing into their lives has a far more sinister motivation. Katherine Graham’s muted lighting in the stoney tiers of Smock Alley suggest menace, something lurking. The young cast of Spilt Gin do well with characters that flit past in short scenes before we really grasp a sense of them. A visually engaging study of revenge nonetheless.
Runs until Friday
– Sinéad Gleeson
ALL THIS AND A HILL OF BEANS ****
The Bald Barista Coffee Shop
In a show as energised and energising as the brew she serves up, barista Jenna Logan – not an actor, but a real barista – springs up from behind the counter like a caffeine-tripping jack-in-the-box and announces, “I’m the David Copperfield of coffee”. Within the small space of the café, Logan recounts her life story while pulling levers and making coffees (damn, really good coffees) for her audience. Despite many setbacks, including a terminal overdose of café soundtracks featuring My Baby Just Cares For Me (she plans to grind the CD and brew it up for the next punter who professes to love that song), she pours out her story – sprinkled with hilarious one-liners – like a special latte macchiato. The show is an homage to the people you meet randomly everyday who have the charisma and energetic wit to keep you going. Not to mention the coffee hits. Who’d have thought a show could be so caffeinated?
Runs until September 22 (sold out)
– Christine Madden
In yesterday’s review of the Dublin Fringe show
My Life in Dresses, reference was made to the performer as Sorcha Kennedy. This should have been Sorcha Kenny.
The following three shows were dated as finishing on Saturday. It should have stated they are finishing on Saturday 25th: Pajama Men – Last Stand to reason; Medea; Berlin Love Tour