The best theatre shows this week

Osborne’s ‘Look back in Anger’ returns to the Gate, and a new work from Mark O’Rowe

Look back in Anger opens at the Gate on February 1st

Look back in Anger opens at the Gate on February 1st

 

Look Back in Anger
Gate Theatre, Dublin. Previews Feb 1-6 Opens Feb 7-Mar 24 7.30pm (Sat mat 2.30pm) gatetheatre.ie
So what happens when the world turns out not to be your oyster, when it even refuses your grit as the beginning of a pearl? In John Osborne’s third play, and his first success, from 1957, it gives rise to the “angry young man”, a turning point in British theatre that would be forever applied to any dissatisfied male writer to lift a pen. Osborne’s Jimmy Porter, working-class and college educated, finds no place in Establishment Britain, taking his frustrations out on his middle-class wife Alison instead. When another woman comes between them, persuading Alison to leave then offering herself as a substitute, the rage remains untrammelled, until something finally breaks.

An important moment for British theatre, it chimed with both the grim recovery of the post-war years and the emerging criticisms of the counter-culture. But these days the play is more respected than staged. (Its last significant Irish production was from Druid in 1991.) Looking forward, though, the Gate has assembled a stellar cast, including Ian Toner, Clare Dunne, Vanessa Emme and Lloyd Cooney, under the direction of Annabelle Comyn. Together they ought to see if Osborne’s play can again test the temper of the times.

The Approach
Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Previews Feb 1-5 Opens Feb 6-24 7.30pm €35/€25 projectartscentre.ie
Mark O’Rowe’s new play, The Approach, is giving little away. Accounts of its premise and plot so far have been cryptic: three women hold three conversations, and as the details of what they share begin to diverge, it comes to resemble a game of survival. Everybody here has something to conceal. It may not sound like the most voluminously elaborate pitch, but then again, good plays tend to resist easy summary. O’Rowe may prefer it this way: Try describing the style and substance of Howie the Rookie, Terminus or his last new work for the stage, Our Few and Evil Days, to a new initiate and you’re likely to abandon the effort by just telling them to just see it. This production adds every incentive, starring Cathy Belton, Derbhle Crotty and Aisling O’Sullivan, three of the finest performers around, directed by the playwright. Approach with incaution.

Wide Eyes Festival
Various venues, Galway. Feb 1-4 €9 per person/ family ticket €30 wideeyesgalway.ie
The good news for anyone looking for an entry-level experience to the performing arts is that it is provided early, alongside the entry-level experience to life. A new festival hosted by Babaró International Arts Festival for Children, whose own propositions for young audiences come later in the calendar, the 15 international shows of theatre and dance assembled here accommodate audience members as young as zero and up to the age of six. Under the premise that you’re never too young for art, each of the pieces has been developed as part of a four-year project with European partners, meaning that Babaró and Branar Téatar do Pháistí’s contribution, a non-verbal show for 3-6 year olds called uoo, mee, weee!, has been developing slightly longer than its youngest attendees. It sits alongside work scattered through schools, crèches and performance spaces. The full programme is online and new audiences are most welcome. 

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