Dublin festival expecting 65,000 visitors


An estimated 65,000 fans are expected to flock to the Dublin Theatre Festival next month as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Outdoor aerial acrobatics, Roddy Doyle's take on the 'Playboy of the Western World' and an ageing cast of pensioners singing pop songs are among the highlights of the 33 shows lined up.

This year's festival sees a massive 221 performances by drama companies from 13 countries dwarfing last year's run of 161 shows.

Loughlin Deegan, artistic director of the festival, said the programme had been hugely widened with music, family dramas and cabaret.

"There are no barriers to getting involved. It's a very deliberate attempt to broaden the audience," he said.

"The festival has never suffered from a lack of attention from Dubliners. I accept that the audience is there but I was anxious to appeal to broad sections of the community and to engage a younger audience."

Burlesque shows will also feature, along with late night productions and free events.

Among the highlights are the London National Theatre's production of Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' an award-winning and heart-warming tale of a group of high achieving schoolboys.

And not to be outdone Dublin's Abbey Theatre will present a fascinating and hilarious new take on Synge's masterpiece 'The Playboy of the Western World' by Roddy Doyle and Nigerian-born Bisi Adigun.

Relocated to west Dublin it centres on a bride-to-be, her "muppet" father and her fiance who is scared of his mammy but all changes when she spots a dusty, well dressed young man.

The festival, which runs from September 27 to October 14, prides itself on being the oldest English-speaking specialist theatre festival in the world and is now in its 50th year.

This year it has attracted a diverse range of acts including three renowned Chekhov dramas, dance, comedy, burlesque and street theatre.

The On the Outside series of shows includes the free show 'Legs on the Wall' a thrilling, aerial acrobatic display in a purpose-built arena at George's Dock in the International Financial Services Centre.

The full schedule is available on www.dublintheatrefestival.com and tickets go on sale tomorrow at 9.30am.