As far as cities go, Dublin manages to patch colourful characters against a very grey backdrop. The people of the city ebb and flow against one another in a constant struggle of perseverance against the unforgiving landscape of recession-ridden Dublin. Lives are intertwined. We push and pull one another in an attempt to keep our heads afloat although some give up and let their heads sink beneath the surface to escape the circus.
Gonzo Theatre returns to Dublin, bringing its ragtag tale of the lives of Dublin’s fair city to the Smock Alley stage, with all the madness, playfulness and brashness of good experimental theatre.
The ringleader choreographs a line up of talented and versatile actors into playing out the harsh yet sometimes uplifting characters of ordinary folk in a struggle to keep on top … of top of what? Life I suppose.
Lots impressed me about The Circus of Perseverance – the stories are simple, but carefully intwined to retain lots of momentum throughout this two-hour show. The performances are hugely demanding on the actors, but delivered well (especially from Rex Ryan and Patrick O’Donnell). And the music? Well, the music is just superb. Alan Darcy and Peter Denton strum and beat their way through the show with exhilarating electric guitar pieces and some atmospheric tin whistle playing to create a sensory experience that keeps drawing you in.
The stories told in The Circus have probably been told before in many other formats, but it doesn’t matter. How they’re told in this show is unlike any others and is guaranteed to draw you in with a few chuckles, some really captivating performances and the perfect musical accompaniments. Not to be missed.
Plays until November 30 at Smock Alley Theatre. Find out more here.
Ireland is a nation of strong women. When you go way back to the Celtic era you can see where we get it from. Throughout the years, strong women like Grainne Mhaol and Constance Markievicz have influenced the psyche of the Irish female to imbue in us a strong sense of self, justice and pride. And no better place to explore feminine strength than in the tenements of 1950s Dublin.
Queens of Pimlico tells the story of two sisters, whose love for one another can triumph even against betrayal and misfortune. This is the third production I’ve seen by Derek Masterson’s No Tears production company and they always manage to find a gentle balance between humour and genuine drama.
While the misfortune of the characters doesn’t create an uplifting story, the characters’, and in particular Rita’s character lighten the mood through real warmth and humour even in the darkest times.
Recommended as a good insight into the plight of women during the 1950s and also if you fancy a good story, well told and with some tear-jerking moments thrown in for good measure.
Plays at the Civic Theatre until November 30. More info on securing tickets here.
If you’ve walked past Liberty Hall lately then you’ll have noticed the eye-catching depiction of the 1913 Lockout. Naturally with the Centenary last month, much was done to celebrate such an important part in the formation of the working class population of Ireland, and Dublin in particular.
Ann Matthews’ stage portrayal manages to find a delicate balance between looking at the wider picture of the politics and key figures in the lockout and the effects this period had on the individual within the working class.
Katie O’Kelly carries the audience through the trials of the lockout with her depiction of devoted wife and mother Ellen (based on Matthews’ own grandmother) while Ian Meehan and Patrick O’Donnell interrupt Ellen’s story with diatribes as James Larkin and James Connolly respectfully.
The power of public speech was a powerful vector during the lockout as with most protests or demonstrations, and these diatribes add momentum to Ellen’s family life disintegration. Remember that 1913 was a world without the virality of social media and public speeches were key in ‘rousing the masses’ and encouraging action. This is something that struck home particularly well and I think this is where a stage adaptation can be especially powerful – the passion and ferocity of the speaker really comes across in a small theatre as opposed to literature or cinema.
For a more personal take on the lockout and a realisation of the full impact this time had on working class Dublin, Lockout provides a sensitive and moving account of one person’s experiences which in reality accounts for the experiences of thousands.
Lockout finishes its sell out run in the New Theatre on Oct. 19.