Irish Times critics give their verdict on this year’s Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival
PETER CRAWLEY: Best ShowPan Pan’s The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane. A riff on Hamlet that had its own academic analysis, an audition for the lead, an audience vote to elect the prince, a school production as the play within the play, and a Great Dane onstage. I had a blast.
The runners upOntroerend Goed’s trilogy – The Smile Off Your Face, Internal and A Game of You – all stimulated the senses and tickled the mind. Act Without Words II proved that Beckett could be stripped of laughter and given a specific social context. T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T. folded religious parables into 1960s counterculture to suggest there is nothing as devastating as transformation. CIRCA, for its poetry in motion. Goodbye Mr Muffin, for breaking it to me gently.
What you liked about this year’s festivalIrish work more than held its own, with Rough Magic’s Phaedra, Pan Pan’s The Rehearsal, Amanda Coogan’s Yellow Re-Performed, and the Peacock’s B For Baby each demonstrating talent, consideration and quality.
What you’d like to see changeSurtitles, line by line, in accordance with the spoken text. Intervals where they are not needed.
Was it a good festival overall?Yes, overall. It may be hard to identify a standout production this year, but a festival is defined by the relationship between shows. The changing role of the audience, the influence of one writer on another, financial and emotional crises echoing through adapted classics, all recurred like themes in a conversation. It was a great conversation.
SARA KEATING: Best show The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane– brilliant fun, despite too many ideas.
The runners up CIRCA– aggressive circus-dance. Wow.
What you liked about this year’s festivalAn Irish flavour in the family programme for the first time ( The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly)
What you’d like to see changeI am really over non-dramatic, real-time theatre ( Factory 2, LEffet de Serge, T.E.O.R.E. M.A.T.)
Was it a good festival overall?Some very solid shows but nothing knock-your-socks-off for me.
CHRISTINE MADDEN:Best showA tie between Pan Pan’s The Rehearsal, Playing the Daneand Polski Teatr’s The Danton Case. Both were highly innovative, visually breathtaking, and featured vigorous, exciting acting and direction.
Runners upThe Smile off Your Face, CIRCA, Phaedra
What I liked about this year’s festivalThe exceptional use of space and design.
What I’d like to see changedThe surtitles in the international shows were often sloppy or faulty.
Was it a good festival overall?This year’s Fringe was a hard act to follow, but the Dublin Theatre Festival really came up with the goods. Bravo!