Theatre highlights for the week ahead

The Galway Arts Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with an ambitious, wide-ranging programme

Patrick O’Kane and Camille O’Sullivan in Woyzeck in Winter

Patrick O’Kane and Camille O’Sullivan in Woyzeck in Winter

 

Galway Arts Festival
Jul 17-30 giaf.ie
This year, the Galway International Arts Festival turns 40, the age at which life begins. To celebrate, the two-week, multi-discipline event has devised its largest ever programme, but given the upwards and outwards trajectory of director Paul Fahy’s organisation – now a redoubtable international producer and co-producer of new work – it was likely to grow anyway, and the momentum towards Galway 2020 is building. 

This year, the theatre and opera strand of the programme sounds less like an capacious category than an encouragement to fuse the genres. One festival co-production with Landmark Productions, Woyzeck in Winter, adapted and directed by Conall Morrison, combines Büchner’s fragmentary play Woyzeck with Schubert’s Die Winterreise, with a cast led by Patrick O’Kane and Camille O’Sullivan. Another, The Second Violinist, again with Landmark and Wide Open Opera, folds an opera into a stage play, written by Enda Walsh and Donnacha Dennehy, featuring Aaron Monaghan as a man subsumed into life at an extraordinary pitch.

This year’s theatre strand is particularly strong, with Druid revisiting Mark O’Rowe’s fascinatingly grimy play Crestfall (starring Amy McElhatton, Siobhán Cullen and Kate Stanley Brennan, above), revised here with director Annabelle Comyn, Decadent staging Abbie Spallen’s early play Pumpgirl, and international visits from the wonderful Kneehigh’s Tristan and Yseult, directed by Emma Rice, and the Old Vic’s collaboration between writer David Greig and musician Charlie Fink.

There are, of course, several other platforms to the festival, between music, visual art, street performance, comedy and talks, this year themed around power. That is something the 40th programme already has in high voltage.

Friday 14


Every Brilliant Thing
Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire. Jul 12-16 8pm (Sat and Sun extra show 5pm) €21/€19 paviliontheatre.ie
Midway through Duncan Macmillan’s artfully engaging play Every Brilliant Thing, written with its amiable performer Jonny Donahoe, a young man burns with embarrassment when his life’s work is accidentally discovered. This is a list, started at the age of seven, of everything that makes life worth living. It begins with ice cream, ranks Danger Mouse above spaghetti Bolognese, and finds room for guilty delights (“people falling over”) or intimate confidences (someone “to check your teeth for broccoli”). That might seem like a trivial way to save a life.

Following its appearance at last year’s Dublin theatre Festival, this beguiling, intelligent production from Paines Plough and Pentabus returns for a short engagement to follow the narrator’s childlike response to fighting clinical depression with pure whimsy. Through various life stages, from school to college, marriage to mortgage, the list grows to fairy-tale proportions, and though Donahoe is never certain if it moves his suicidal mother, he has innumerable allies in his audience.

Tuesday 18


The Water Orchard
Project Arts Centre. Jul 18-29 7.30pm €20/€16 projectartscentre.ie
To look at the poster for the new show from Collapsing Horse, where the title erupts in psychedelic curls from the prim figure of a woman from a more distant history, you might get the sense that a Chekhov play had been staged by a company on LSD. (That actually sounds like something The Wooster Group would do.)

The truth isn’t too far off, though: The Water Orchard of its title hasn’t been productive in years, leaving an estate barren, open to more energetic takeover by marauding fools and hammy actors, while its owner, Old Madeleine, has been spirited away to be interrogated about her life by a sentient projector. Writer and co-director (with Dan Colley) Eoghan Quinn’s new comedy takes a surreal look at the winds of change. Ideas like that, much like water, don’t grow on trees.

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