'I'm thinking I could be in Las Vegas'


FROM NOON onwards yesterday in a gloriously sunny Galway, curious onlookers started drifting towards the dramatic circular structure in Eyre Square. “It’s like a big hamster wheel,” observed Annette Flanagan, who was on a lunch break with her colleague Joanne Whelan.

On day three of the Galway Arts Festival, the “hamster wheel” was in fact the prop for French street theatre company, Les Philebulistes’ Arcane.

Invented and developed by trapeze artists Maxim Bourdon and Sebastien Bruas, the structure looked like two giant bicycle wheels sandwiched together. The sandwich filling was Bourdon and Bruas, who alternately flipped, spun, hung off, and powered the wheel around in a series of pleasingly dangerous-looking and skilled manoeuvres. Eyre Square was crammed with appreciative onlookers, many of them picnicking as they watched the performance.

“Do you want me to be honest?” asked Florida-based Scott Smith, as he sat watching with his friend Joe Morrow outside the Skeffington Hotel. “We knew nothing about the Galway Arts Festival until we got here today, and I’m looking over at these guys, and I’m thinking I could be in Las Vegas. Seriously. This is as good as Las Vegas.”

You can catch Les Philebulistes’ Arcane again today in Eyre Square for their final performances, at 2pm and 6pm.

At the festival box office, several shows had already sold out. Fastest to go this year were theatre, with Misterman, Comedy of Errors and Request Programme all sell-outs, and the acrobatics show Controlled Falling Project, which has its Irish premiere in Galway this year, also booked out.

With Fishamble’s show, Silent, receiving a standing ovation on its opening night on Tuesday, word of mouth on the show was predicting a similar sell-out.

Erth Dinosaur Petting Zoo, a performance for children and adults currently doing the rounds of various venues in Ireland with charge-in admission, including at the RDS, is free for all its Galway shows. That’s definitely something for price-conscious festival punters to take note of.

It’s Galway at festival time, so there are the usual accompanying assorted crew of fire-jugglers, buskers and street artists. They’re not on the programme, but they come along every year to entertain the crowds and help create the terrific festive atmosphere.

One of the more unusual fringe participants yesterday on William Street was artist Niamh Fagan, who was completing her wax pastel drawing of a serene-looking angel. “I do portraits of real people too,” she explained.

“But I started today by drawing an angel because it’s a lovely day and you can’t go wrong starting off with an angel.”

So what takes Fagan longer to draw, a human or an angel?

“Oh, the angel takes much longer, because you first have to think what kind of angel they’re going to be, and what they’re going to look like. With a person, it’s easy, because they’re right there in front of you.”

The festival continues until July 24th. Galwayartsfestival.com