As part of the 2021 Dublin Theatre Festival, ‘The visit’ by Deirdre Kinahan is playing at the Draiocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown. Last night was the opening night of its four night run, and I had a ticket.
The Draiocht is a lovely venue, with unusual theatre seating – namely that it is quite comfortable. Disappointingly I was seated in the back row. This seems to be the standard, while theatres are operating at only 60% capacity – lone audience members are banished to the dark recesses and edges, while the groups get the good seats. It makes financial sense I suppose. At least it is not as mercenary as some of the other schemes in operation by the theatre festival.
Take ‘Conversations after sex’ in the Project. In-house tickets cost 26.50 eur. Meanwhile they are charging the same price for the live-stream and on-demand tickets. I was baffled when I saw that. The theatre has suffered since the pandemic but to charge that price for what essentially is a YouTube video of a live performance is not treating the audience with due respect. Surely it’s common sense that no-more than a cinema ticket price be charged for an onscreen viewing?
Sarah Hanly’s debut play ‘Purple snowflakes and titty wanks’ is currently running as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. It is a co-production with the Royal Court Theatre in London, and runs in Dublin until 16th October.
A one-woman show starring Hanly, it tells the tale of Saoirse Murphy from her religious secondary school years in a convent school in Enniskerry, to the bright lights of musical theatre college in London. The story is relayed as a conversation between Saoirse and her best friend Aisling, as she struggles with an eating disorder, and her attraction to other girls, while navigating the minefield that the sexual politics of life in a mixed sex school.
Currently showing at the Axis in Ballymun, as part of the 2021 Dublin Theatre Festival, is Thommas Kane Byrne’s latest play ‘Rearing is sparing’. Starring Karen Ardiff and Denise McCormack, it tells the tale of two north inner city Dublin women as they sit separately, outside a courthouse. Anita’s (Denise McCormack) son is on trial. They narrate their tale, and that of each of their two sons, and how their actions have affected both their lives, leading them to this point.
Bottom Dog Theatre company from Limerick produced a show at the Belltable Theatre in Limerick in November 2019. It was called ‘A Wilde fan’. It is a one man show, written and performed by Limerick actor Myles Breen, and directed by Liam O’Brien. The plan I believe had been to tour the show around the country in the new year. Then came Covid…
Early in the pandemic the show was live-streamed from the Belltable and I attended that online show. I was impressed by the play – despite the obvious limitations of streaming any live theatre. With the pandemic hopefully nearing its conclusion; and with audience attendance now increased to 60% capacity; I was happy to revisit the show in its live form at the Draiocht Arts Centre in Blanchardstown last night.
My quarantine has ended and I am allowed back on the street.
What, pray tell, are you talking about, I hear you asking? Only that I caught Covid-19, and have spent the last fortnight coughing and spluttering in my home, hiding from the world to prevent me spreading the Plague to others.
This week sees the debut of ‘Walls and windows’ by Rosaleen McDonagh in the Abbey theatre. A play which tells the tale of a Traveler couple Julia and John Reilly as they navigate their way through 21st century Ireland. So for the third consecutive night, I took myself to the playhouse.
Before the play began, the artistic director of the Abbey, Caitríona McLaughlin, made an announcement. The character of Julia was meant to be portrayed by Sorcha Fox, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she would now be played by Sarah Morris who would be reading her part from the book. This was worrying – even with the best efforts and intentions of the actor stepping in at the last minute, this would surely damage the flow of the piece as it is thrown off kilter by the unavoidable inclusion of an unrehearsed actor?
‘God of of carnage’ by Yasmina Reza, had its opening night at Smock Alley Theatre’s main stage this evening. Having experienced a very light menu of live theatre thus far this year, I booked my ticket the day they went on sale. As the Irish government has decided to punish the live entertainment industry under the guise of public health, theatres are only allowed to operate at 20% capacity, I wanted to make sure I booked my seat early. With such drastically reduced audiences, tickets are difficult to acquire as shows sell out in an instant. Eating in a restaurant afterwards faces far lighter restrictions despite posing the same risk of acquiring the Plague.
Last weekend the Gaiety Theatre placed a very pointed post on social media, addressing the 50 strong audience for their Saturday matinee. It read ‘to the 50 people attending today’s matinee at the Gaiety, please allow extra time to travel as there are 24,000 people travelling to Croke Park for the hurling’. It spoke quite directly to the abandonment of the theatre and live music industry in comparison to the sports industry, by the state in the time of Covid. The Gaiety is one of Dublin’s oldest theatres, with a capacity of 1145 people. Permitting only 4% of a venue’s capacity to attend a show, when over 70% of the adult population is fully vaccinated seems excessively punitive. It could irreparable damage to live entertainment in this country.
Nevertheless I am making herculean efforts to attend whatever is on offer. To date this year I have attended ‘Cruise’ at the Duchess Theatre in London in May; ‘One Good Turn’ by Una McKevitt in the Abbey Theatre in June and ‘Rogue’ by Lee Coffey in Smock Alley Theatre. The London show was almost at capacity. The Irish shows operated at 10% capacity. Hardly ideal but it was still magical to be back in the audience in the dark, watching the shenanigans onstage.
In some welcome news I have acquired tickets to see another show in Smock Alley Theatre. I will be going to the Firedoor Theatre production of ‘God of carnage’ by Yasmina Reza in Smock Alley Theatre which is running from August 23rd to 28th.
Leaving the Viking Sheds Theatre in Clontarf on March 11th last year, having seen ‘Dirtbirds’ little did I realise that it would be fifteen months before I’d enter an Irish theatre again. The dry spell was broken yesterday evening when I attended ‘Rogue’ by Lee Coffey on the main stage of Smock Alley theatre. Performed by the graduating class of the Gaiety School of Acting, I was very curious. Having seen Coffey’s plays ‘In our veins’ and ‘Murder of crows’ in recent years, I know that he’s a talented playwright. The director for this show was Tracy Ryan (whose direction of ‘Iphegenia in Splott’ in Smock Alley some years ago was a powerhouse of piece.) Click button below for next page
The Minister for Housing is Darragh O’Brien. He is a member of the Fianna Fail party. Its coalition partner Fine Gael previously held this ministry. Since 2011 Fine Gael has been in power. The two parties formed a coalition after last year’s election (although a de-facto coalition existed from 2016 to 2020). The housing crisis has exploded over the past decade since Fine Gael took office. O’Brien’s predecessor was named Eoghan Murphy – a man whose picture appears next to the word ‘failure’ in my personal dictionary (https://midnightmurphy.com/2019/07/03/eoghan-murphy-a-chocolate-fireguard ) . He was an elected representative for the Dublin Bay South constituency, which is the wealthiest in the land. Fine Gael clearly has its finger on the pulse of the nation when it appointed a rich boy whose granddad Russell Murphy was a swindler accountant who fleeced his clients for hundreds of thousands, to solve the housing emergency. After the 2020 election Eoghan Murphy was relieved of ministerial duties. Some months later he decided that politics was not for him. He resigned his seat. Prompting a by-election for a parliamentary seat in the leafiest of suburbs.
Some important facts about housing in Ireland are relevant here. The cost of purchasing a house in Ireland is out of reach of people on an average wage. In Dublin, the situation is even worse. Unless you are earning a minimum of 70,000eur a year as a single person you can forget about owning your own home. This is deliberate government policy – supply has been reduced to a trickle, while prices soar to help banks and institutional investors. Meanwhile vulture funds buy up entire housing estates and apartment blocks to rent at extortionate rates to tenants. Tenants who because they are spending 50% of their available income on rent are unable to save to try to buy a property. These renters aren’t burdened with tenancy rights of any substance. Every now and then a scandal erupts, and the government pretends to act. The housing crisis continues and purchasing or renting a property in Ireland remains a national disgrace.
As the housing crisis will be front and centre of the coming by-election to replace Eoghan Murphy, I thought I’d look at some the candidates for this seat.