Reviews

 

A look at what is happening in the world of the arts. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Pavilion, Dún Laoghaire

A Midsummer Night's Dream by Independent Ballet Wales relied on classical technique and choreography to tell Shakespeare's story, setting aside extraneous props and pantomime to provide some sweet and charming moments.

Choreographer Darius James sets a comfortable pace by presenting constantly changing vignettes, and we meet the main couples Oberon and Titania, Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, and Hippolyta and Theseus, portrayed by a strong cast of dancers.

Soon the mortal world collides with the fairy one until lovers are mixed, matched and intertwined, dancing light-heartedly to spells cast by the quintessential charmer Puck.

By the end of the first act, everyone's true love has gotten truly mixed up.

Alex Grant excels as Puck, moving as fast as fairy dust and suggesting magic is everywhere, adeptly portraying the comic role.

His footwork is so fleeting and arms so precise that as he swoops to centre stage, mischievously looking around, hearts teeter on the brink of breaking.

Through interesting pedestrian movements and clearly recognizable classical ballet steps, the story comes together.

A group of workmen stomp their heels in unison during Act I, then take off, Charlie Chaplin-like, with legs stretching out in front of them. This choreography works as well as the classical pas de deux near the end when James Foster as Oberon and Elizabeth Peck as Titania reunite.

As they pirouette and arabesque, other couples fill the corners of the stage and follow suit.

The effect is like pieces of a kaleidoscope coming together as the different couples move at their own pace and the patterns form a satisfying whole.

Puck anchors the action in most ballet productions of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the same was true here.

Still, the others in the cast - Foster, Peck, Amy Doughty, Katherine Kingston, Keir Brody, Chris James and Sarah Cassar - each play two roles at some point in the ballet, essential for a company this small to tell a story this involved.

They succeeded in maximizing slim resources. If only Puck could make those resources multiply. Continues on tour around Ireland. Christie Taylor

McFly The Point, Dublin

McFly are currently encountering sound difficulties partly of their own making. But, caught in a deafening and shrill howl of pre-teen hysteria, the group soldiers on.

When most other non-threatening boy bands have long-since issued their final non-threats, it now falls to this politely punky quartet to mop up the screams.

Lord knows, somebody has to.

Manufactured they may be, but McFly do play their own instruments and even write their own songs - heroic feats for which they have been roundly congratulated.

But, in the shrieking wind tunnel of pre-pubescence that was once The Point, they could be playing free-jazz, polka or even blackjack for all the difference it would make.

When the piercing and quite frightening din eventually subsides a little, it reveals a polite and quite forgettable din emanating from the band.

The bob of Merseybeat, the pogo of pop-punk, the sway of surf-pop - it's a curious throwback for a band largely in their teens.

Odder still, lead scamp Tom Fletcher can sympathetically dedicate The Ballad of Paul K, a song about mid-life crisis, to any dads in attendance, while deeming 2004's Obviously "a really old song".

There is something endearingly unaffected about such confusion, and McFly's juvenile and ostentatious show is a tangle of contradictions.

An unchecked combination of sniggering teenage kicks and dead-posh fantasy, it features an enormous pair of inflatable legs, tastelessly spreadeagled across the stage, a hymn to diarrhoea, and an unctuous She Falls Asleep (part 2), dripping with chandeliers, a black-tie orchestra, and a grand piano rising up from a lake of dry ice. Together with heartfelt tributes to Green Day and The Who, or the winsome swoon of their inescapable It's All About You, it is a picture of a band still discovering who they are.

Whether or not their loyally screeching but ultimately distractible fans will see out the journey, one thing's for sure: McFly will not go out quietly. Peter Crawley