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From Kafka to Walsh: This week’s theatre highlights

Imaginative new spins on old concerns take the stages this week

They Called Her Vivaldi

Josephine K and the Algorithms

Abbey Theatre, Peacock Stage. Oct 21 8pm €16-€25 abbeytheatre.ie

“Someone must have been spreading lies about Josephine K…” It isn’t hard to understand why Stacey Gregg has quickly become one of Ireland’s most frequently staged new writers at home and abroad. Her writing responds to our most immediate concerns, often stretched into fantastical shapes or futuristic worlds, but rooted in what it means to be alive in the here and now. Her new play for the Abbey threads Franz Kafka’s enduring piece of paranoid absurdism about a figure hounded by an unaccountable justice system, The Trial, into the age of big data, technological intrusion and online mobs. Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, the production takes an appropriately disorienting approach to the familiar space of the Peacock, leaving audiences free to negotiate a reconceived space through a breathless, hour-long showdown between Josephine, her judges, jury and executioner.

Charolais

Dolmen Theatre, Cornelscourt Oct 21-28 8pm dolmentheatre.ie

Not since Edward Albee’s The Goat or Woody Allen’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Too Afraid to Ask), has there been a more complicated, interspecies love triangle than Charolais. Noni Stapleton’s solo performance premiered at the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2014 as part of Show in a Bag, and has since scooped several awards and been frequently revived. It is the tale of Siobhán, a pregnant woman in Ireland who sees a love rival - seductive and French - in the curvaceous shape of a Charolais heifer, monopolising the attentions of her doting farmer husband. It’s a comic premise, certainly, but Stapleton is not in it entirely for laughs. Dealing with loneliness, scrutiny, motherhood and slaughter in Ireland, it is not a play that steps gingerly around any sacred cattle.

They Called Her Vivaldi

Town Hall Theatre, Galway. 21; Roscommon Arts Centre. Oct 25; Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar Oct 27-28 theatrelovett.com

Theatre Lovett, the leading light of theatre for family audiences, bring back a recent show for an extensive national tour culminating with an appointment at the Peacock. An upbeat comedy adventure for young audiences, it followed a fascinating period of darkening material from the company. Louis Lovett’s work has involved depicting whole worlds in commanding solo performances, or collaborating with wider musical ensembles. Here he partners with Genevieve Hulme-Beaman to play a father and daughter who live in a haberdasher shop. The evocatively named Edward M Haberdasher has crafted a pair of peculiar earmuffs for his daughter, a sensitive musical-prodigy. When Cecilia Maria’s musical gift is revealed, she quietly begins making a name for herself in a cacophonous world. 

La Marie Vison

Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. Oct 21 1.30pm, 6.30pm smockalleytheatre.com

Every day, for 18 years, Marie, a male transvestite, has released a butterfly into the living room she shares with her adult son, an indentured servant kept separated from the world beyond their home of elegant squalor. Every day, her son has destroyed it. But now he might try to escape the home and his jailer-parent’s control – if he can survive outside these suffocating rooms. It sounds like an Enda Walsh play, but Shuji Terayama’s unconventional drama was written in 1967, under the title Kegawa no Marie, and has since become a regularly revived alternative classic of the Japanese stage. The play’s Irish premiére, in an English translation performed by Irish actors, is directed by Dublin-based Japanese director Maki Mutai as part of a series of events celebrating the 60th anniversary of Japan-Ireland diplomatic ties.