Tag Archives: Dublin Theatre Festival

Review: Dubliners at The Gaiety Theatre

‘The grey warm evening of August had descended upon the city, and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illumined pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below, which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air an unchanging, unceasing murmur.’

Beautiful words to begin the rather crude story of Two Gallants, which at the time of its creation was refused at first by the printer. How stunning then that two bawdy ladies of the night recite these lines agains the background of a garish pink backdrop in Dubliners’ stage adaptation currently playing at The Gaiety.

As part of the audience at the Corn Exchange‘s Dubliners this evening I was reminded again about how superb Joyce was at creating characters that are at the same time amazing and ordinary. This production, through its heavily stylised staging and dramatic acting has managed to keep true to Joyce’s style by creating a production that, while not without flaw, tells the story of ordinary people in a way that is truly extraordinary.

Of Dubliners’ 15 short stories, playwright Michael West chose nine to stage. The choice is interesting and I agreed to it for the most part but felt that it could have survived better without The Boarding House and A Mother while the production definitely lacked the presence of A Little Cloud and Araby.

Beginning with Two Sisters was a logical choice but I felt gave the production a lacklustre start, while An Encounter actually gave the the energy it needed to capture the audience – Mark O’Halloran’s performance is fantastic here and had the audience in stitches.

Eveline, A Painful Case, Two Gallants and Counterparts are all very well staged and keep to the original text quite a lot with a few side comments added to the characters’ dialogue which is a wonderful way of making Joyce’s text more accessible for the general reader, but for any diehard Joyceans I can see it getting quite irritating.

Transitions between the stories seem to have caused the company some problems – and I felt this could have been done more seamlessly – perhaps with characters gradually appearing and stories beginning while others were ending – maybe this could weaken meaningful endings however. For example, the transition for the rather slap stick humour of A Mother into the poignancy of The Dead was a bit problematic.

The decision to edit The Dead in such a way confuses me. The world over raves about this story – it is the most popular, most read, and polished of all of Joyce’s work so why edit it? A whole chunk of the story is missing and I felt it a little silly to presume the story would work without the back story of Gabriel and Greta’s marriage, their family live and place in society, which all work to build the story up to this beautiful final moment. I think the second half would have worked better if A Mother had been taken out and the full version of The Dead included.

The production is a real accomplishment for the Corn Exchange and I’d highly recommend it. I was disappointed with some of the decisions the company made but as a piece of theatre it is wonderfully entertaining, poignant, aesthetically very beautiful and of course, truly Dublin.


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Review: Peer Gynt

After seeing last year’s Phaedra by Rough Magic in the Project Arts Centre, I was interested in seeing another production by the same company, especially when it promised a similar creative approach. In a new version by Hilary Fannin and Ellen Cranitch, Phaedra was brought from its mythical past into a modern context; the real icing on the theatrical cake however was the specially composed and performed live, music by a host of extremely talented Irish musicians.

Following on from this success, Peer Gynt, in a new version by Arthur Riordan, transports the Norweigan tale from the cold environs of late 1800’s Scandinavia to modern Ireland, and this is all done with a great set, and lively performances accompanied by really gorgeous live music by Tarab.

Lasting three hours, the first half of the play was fast paced, full of cheeky humour and lively performances, particularly from Karen Ardiff’s Aase. Closing the first half with a moving scene between mother and son, the relevance of Peer Gynt for an Irish audience became very clear – Irish mothers and their undying love for their sons!

The second half changed in tone, as Rory Nolan’s Peer travels abroad and encounters many strange characters, who ultimately lead him to tackle the question of when he has been himself. While I loved the first half, the second half lost my interest quite a bit – I understand that the plot of Peer Gynt is quite convoluted (in fact the play was originally written to be read and not staged), so it’s not the production’s fault, but the second half is really a let down when compared with the first.

However, the closing scenes were particularly stunning, and I left the theatre feeling like I had experienced something quite special. In my own opinion, the production is extremely creative, Arthur Riordan has done a great job of creating a text that is as relevant as it was to an audience in the late 1800’s, as it is to an audience in Ireland today; the music as I’ve already harped on about (pardon the pun) is absolutely fantastic, and the set design was brilliant.

I think that Rough Magic combining live music with theatre has yet again nailed it when it comes to great theatre. Unfortunately, an overly complicated plot let them down slightly, but the production is still something not to be missed.

Peer Gynt is on until October 16th and tickets can be bought on the Ulster Bank Theatre Festival’s box office.

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The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival needs YOU to help bring an exciting new production to the stage.

Got this in on my email seemed interesting so thought I’d share with y’all:

Ever sat in the stalls watching a really great play and wondered what it would be like to be part of bringing it to the stage?  Well now you can.  The Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival is internationally recognized as one of Ireland’s premiere cultural events and is inviting you to play a very special part in bringing an exciting new production from one of Ireland’s most talented emerging theatre companies to the stage – but they can’t do it without your help.

During the 2010 Festival a once off In Development performance of a new work received a phenomenal reaction with huge excitement and interest from a number of international Festivals and venues.  The Blue Boy is a new show which is being developed by Brokentalkers one of Ireland’s most exciting emerging voices in theatre today.

In 2009 Brokentalkers had a sellout run in the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival with Silver Stars which told the remarkable real life stories of ordinary gay men in search of happiness and fulfillment in a country challenged by their very existence. It has since gone on to travel the world to many international festivals and venues. The Blue Boy is an astonishing show looking at the experiences of those incarcerated as children in Catholic residential care institutions, and with the mediums of film, music and dance, it deals with one of the biggest issues to hit our nation in recent years. Such an ambitious project needs a huge amount of time and resource invested in it to make it into a full production. The next step in this process is a planned four week workshop in May with renowned choreographer Eddie Kay, and that is where you come in!

How to help: The Festival needs you to help FUND IT.  Fundit.ie is a crowdfunding web platform based in Ireland where people can share their ideas for creative projects online.  Projects set the financial target they need, offering unique rewards to donors for different sums pledged.

The Blue Boy a work in development:

How much: You can pledge just €10 euro or if you want to you can pledge more, there are different levels up to €250. For each level you pledge, you will get exclusive rewards.  The Festival has set a target of €3, 000 which they need to meet or (under the rules of Fund it) they will not be able to draw down any of the pledges.

Rewards: There are rewards at every level of pledges from tickets, to an exclusive in development presentation of The Blue Boy, invitations to the VIP launch of the UBDTF Festival, tickets to the Gala Opening night of the Festival and

If you pledge €250, you will have the opportunity to attend a private workshop and discuss the project with the creative team.   It’s a glimpse behind the scenes and access that is never normally available to the public.  (see fundit.ie for full details)

Want to be a part of it?: Well log on to fundit.ie, create an account  and click on what level you would like to support The Blue Boy. Its as easy as that.

Founded in 1957, the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival continues to lead the way in the presentation of outstanding Irish and international performance.  The Festival has hosted productions by the world’s most highly regarded artists, while also premiering work by the giants of Irish theatre.  Aside from presenting theatre of the finest calibre, the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival holds ancillary events which include workshops, symposiums and talks from the world’s most prominent theatre practitioners.   www.dublintheatrefestival.com

The 2011 Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival will run from September 29 – October 16. Full Festival programme will be announced in late summer.



More info on Brokentalkers http://www.brokentalkers.com/

More info on the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival www.dublintheatrefestival.com

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival receives financial assistance from the Arts Council.  Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival acknowledges the support of its Title Sponsor.

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