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Michael Palin, Mike Leigh and Christy Moore: This week’s unmissable online events

Celine Byrne and Robert Webb also among the virtual attractions over next seven days

A Night in with Robert Webb
Thursday, April 29th, 6.30pm, £8-£15,

Fancy an evening with Jez from Peep Show? The comedian, actor and writer, one half of the comedy duo Mitchell and Webb, promises a witty and entertaining night to coincide with the paperback release of his bestselling novel Come Again. The book is the clever, funny story of Kate, a woman devastated by the loss of her beloved husband Luke who suddenly finds herself back in the 1990s as her 18-year-old self, with a chance to relive her first meeting with Luke and prevent his future death. But can you fall in love for the first time twice? Webb will also chat about his part-memoir, part-rallying call for men to man up, How Not to Be a Boy, and his TV work with David Mitchell, which also includes That Mitchell and Webb Look and, more recently, Back.

A Drink with the Idler: Michael Palin and Tom Hodgkinson
Thursday, April 29th, 6pm, £5 (free for Idler subscribers),

The comedian and travel writer Michael Palin could never be accused of idling: whether he's singing The Lumberjack Song on Monty Python or circumnavigating the globe for his TV travel series, Palin is not one for sitting still. Even when Covid restrictions curbed his wanderlust, he still revisited his adventures via the series Travels of a Lifetime. Here, Palin settles down for a drink and a virtual pub chat with Idler's editor, Tom Hodgkinson, and we're invited to pour ourselves a glass of our favourite tipple and join them. Palin will talk about his wide-ranging career and focus on a few highlights, and the "pub" will stay open afterwards so we can ask a few questions of our own. Also joining the chat will be the writer, philosopher and psychotherapist Dr Mark Vernon, whose books include The Idler Guide to Ancient Philosophy.

Spring Summer Variations at the National Concert Hall
Thursday, April 29th, 8pm, from €12 (15 per cent discount for NCH Friends), see


The National Concert Hall is presenting a series of uplifting concerts every fortnight until June 24th, designed to give solace and comfort as we make the nerve-racking transition to something resembling normality. The series got off to a false start when the planned opening night on April 15th, featuring the Irish Chamber Orchestra, had to be cancelled. Tonight's concert, featuring the soprano Celine Byrne, is good to go. She will be joined by Dearbhla Brosnan on piano, Nicole Hudson on violin and Ailbhe McDonagh on cello for a programme of opera arias and Irish, German and French songs. On May 13th it's the turn of The Vanbrugh and guests for a night of Brahms and Dvorak, followed by Camerata Ireland and Barry Douglas for Mozart piano concertos on May 27th. On June 10th, the Irish Baroque Orchestra, with the soprano Aisling Kenny, will present Rejoice: Music to Lift the Spirit, featuring works by Bach and Handel. The curtain-closer, on June 24th, features the Irish Chamber Orchestra, under director/violinist Katherine Hunka, performing some Argentinian tango from Astor Piazzolla, with help from accordionist Dermot Dunne.

Screen Legends: An Evening with Mike Leigh
Friday, April 30th, 6.30pm, £10.72-£16.09,

It's 50 years since Mike Leigh directed his first film, Bleak Moments, since when he has chronicled the grimy reality of British working-class lives via plays such as Abigail's Party and films such as Secrets & Lies and Vera Drake. In this How to Academy event, the acclaimed British director chats with Hannah MacInnes about how he weaves his tapestries of ordinary lives into memorable cinema, and how he improvises everything from scripts to key scenes to inject even more gritty realism into his work.

Friday Opera Explorer
Fridays from April 30th until May 28th, 5pm, free, Irish National Opera YouTube channel

So where would you like to go this weekend? Italy? Germany? France? Russia? The world is your oyster in this weekly musical exploration. Take a virtual trip to experience exotic locations in the company of some of Ireland's finest singers, all for free. Each week, the Friday Opera Explorer will take you back through the historic repertoire with a selection of arias from an unlikely variety of composers, performed by the brightest stars of the Irish National Opera (INO), and will also feature interviews with Irish composers who are busy creating the repertoire of the future. In the first programme, which will be available on the INO's YouTube channel, Naomi Louisa O'Connell, Gyula Nagy, John Molloy and Claudia Boyle will perform arias by Bellini and Donizetti, accompanied by Aoife O'Sullivan and Gary Beecher on piano. Also, the composer Gerald Barry will be grilled by the INO's artistic director, Fergus Sheil, about his work, and there'll be a preview of the upcoming INO production of Barry's Alice's Adventures Under Ground.

Ballydehob Jazz Festival
Friday, April 30th, until Monday, May 3rd, suggested donation15 for one night or30 for the weekend,

It's the boutique cousin of the nearby Cork Jazz Festival, and it has taken place in the west Co Cork village of Ballydehob every year since 2007. This year the BJF is going online, but it will be no less of a celebration for all that. "It's been the strangest, toughest year in anyone's living memory and we're still not out of it yet, but the show must go on. We had to ask ourselves, what can we do?" says the festival's director, Joseph O'Leary. What they did was pull together an enticing line-up of some of Ireland's finest contemporary jazz musicians, including dynamic jazz collective Redivider, the chamber-music ensemble Cuar, The Cormac McCarthy Sextet and the ever-popular Niwel Tsumbu and Eamonn Cagney, with guest singer Camilla Griehsel. These performances, recorded in the heart of the village, will be streamed online via the town's YouTube channel, and the ambitious headline concert will feature an original piece, Loch Trasna (Roaring Water Suite), by the composer and trombonist Paul Dunlea. This commissioned suite celebrates the bravery of the local men and women during the War of Independence, and will feature some of Ireland's leading improvisational musicians.

Christy Moore: From the National Concert Hall
Saturday, May 1st, 8pm, from €16.50, see

Christy Moore has spent the best part of 50 years bringing people together with his tunes, so it’s particularly galling that we currently can’t all pack into a venue to watch the bould Christy weave his musical and storytelling magic live. But on May Day we have a chance to join Christy as he performs a livestreamed gig from the National Concert Hall. This livestream was originally scheduled for January 16th, but the country was deep in lockdown at the time. If anything can act as a welcome signpost to the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a Christy Moore gig. Oh, and don’t forget your shovel – we’ll dig ourselves out of this pandemic if we have to.

Twelfth Night
Sunday, May 2nd, 7.30pm, donation requested, 60hourshakespeare

Shakespeare's plays are well used to getting fresh, unusual settings, and here's another leftfield one: Twelfth Night set in New York in 1919. It's the Bard jazzed up and funnelled through an F Scott FitzGerald filter. Viola and her twin brother, Sebastian, are separated by a shipwreck, and Viola, disguised as Cesario, falls in love with Duke Orsino, who is in love with Countess Olivia, who in turn falls in love with Viola, thinking her to be a man. Cue multiple misinterpretations and misunderstandings. It's all played out to a jazz soundtrack and in the shadow of Prohibition. Proceeds from this production will support the Fiorentini Foundation, which enables disadvantaged children to gain entry to the world of performing arts. The recommended donation is £10, but the producers, mindful of the tough year we've all had, will be happy to let you in to the virtual performance for whatever you want to pay.

Bewley's Cafe Theatre with the Lock Inn present Hue and Cry
Wednesday, May 5th, 12th and 19th, 7.30pm, €5,

Deirdre Kinahan's classic Dublin play gets a different sort of revival in this special online production, a collaboration between Bewley's and the Lock Inn, streaming over three consecutive Wednesdays in May. Stephen Jones and Ste Murray star as two cousins and former best mates who are brought back into each other's orbit by a family bereavement. Cousins Damian and Kevin's lives have taken sharply different directions in the 12 years since they last hung out together, and when they meet again on the eve of the funeral, the scene is set for a surprisingly moving drama tinged with black humour. Get your clatteriest teacups out and settle back for this virtual celebration of Dublin life.