This May bank holiday Monday sees the welcome return of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, for the first time since 2019. Now in its 19th year, the pandemic of the past two years had thwarted its occurrence for two years. It’s back for the next two weeks, featuring twenty-three productions in various venues around the city. Check out the 2022 programme on http://www.gaytheatre.ie.
For my matinee viewing today I went to the Main Hall in the Teachers’ Club on Parnell Square to see a comedy double bill ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Three Queens Stuck in Dublin’.
Over the past two nights I have watched the new Russell T. Davies show ‘It’s a sin’ on Channel 4. Davies found fame in 1999 with the revolutionary ‘Queer as folk’ TV show which documented the lives of a group of gay men in Manchester. The show was radical in that the characters were not villains or victims – but instead well rounded individuals living unapologetic lives; and engaging in the sex and drugs and rock and roll hedonism of urban, young, gay men. I was in my early twenties and living in Dublin at the time in a flat-share with two other gay guys. Our lives may not have been quite as raucous as the characters on screen, but we had our fun. The show held a mirror up to the lives we were living. Ir was refreshing that the emphasis was not on the message that being gay kills you. The big disease with the little name hadn’t gone away but by the late 1990s, a HIV diagnosis was no longer an automatic death sentence. ‘Queer as folk’ reflected this change in outlook. I loved the programme.
Now twenty years after huge success with ‘Doctor Who’ Davies has revisited the gay life. ‘It’s a sin’ tells the story of a group of young gay men in a house share in London in the 1980s, just as news is filtering through from the US about a ‘gay cancer’ that is ripping through the male, gay community and killing everyone who gets a diagnosis. There’s Colin – a sweet boy from Wales who works in a tailor’s; Roscoe – estranged from his Nigerian family because of his homosexuality ,and working in a bar; Ash – a school teacher; Colin – an aspiring actor from the Isle of Wight; and Jill – an actress of unspecified sexual orientation.
Once upon a time (in the 1990s) in a hemisphere far, far away there appeared a holy trinity of outsider films from the country of Australia. All featured the legendary actor Bill Hunter, and each of them is among my all-time favourite films. ‘Strictly Ballroom’; ‘The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ and ‘Muriel’s Wedding’ exist individually as brilliant films, but as a grouping is an incomparable troika of cinematic brilliance. All three have been adapted as stage musicals. This week the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin is staging ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’. Last night I attended the show. Continue reading Musical review: ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’→
‘Faultline’ is a new site-specific, immersive co-production between ANU and the Gate Theatre. Set in a Georgian building at number 11 Parnell Square East, the audience of twelve is divided into two groups and placed among the performers in a re-imagined gay bar; in the headquarters of the Irish Gay Rights movement in the early 1980s – which was in reality located in a few rooms in a similar building on the other side of the square; and in a cottage (a men’s public lavatory which was how many gay men hooked up with each other in those criminal days.) Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Faultline’→
I will not be in attendance at Dublin Pride this this year – I am travelling abroad on the weekend, which will be the reason for my absence. However if I think about it, it feels like I am dodging a bullet. Continue reading Pride – what a shame→
Availing of my participant pass, I hauled myself to the Pearse Centre for the 7.30pm show at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. ‘The little pink book of masculinity’ by John Best; and ‘The measure of a man’ by Gavin Roach are a pair of one-man shows from England and Australia respectively. Both are deeply personal accounts of the life experiences of the two men, who perform their own work. Best tells the story of how arbitrarily cruel the gay scene can be to a young gay man who doesn’t fit within the parameters of what is acceptable. To be embraced as a fully functional young gay man it appears you must be beautiful and muscles and absolutely not camp. Our hero does not measure up to this ideal so he struggles. It was a moving piece watching the characters with these struggles – especially when your value is influenced by by what some toxic app like Grindr tells you is hot. Being young and gay is still a bit of a minefield to navigate your way through. At the age of forty and above the superficial judgement is even more harsh, but hopefully our hero will care less about it by that point. The show features ‘Whatta man’ by Salt ‘n’ Pepa and En Vogue which is a welcome addition to any show – including Hamlet. Continue reading IDGTF Reviews: ‘The Little Pink Book of Masculinity’ and ‘The Measure of a Man’→
I entered the grounds of Trinity College with trepidation. My destination was the Players’ Theatre. My mission was to see ‘All I see is you’ by Kathrine Smith. My problem – well the Taoiseach had been to see this show the previous night; and one of the actors in the piece was an alumnus of the TV shows ‘Shameless’ and ‘The Bill’ – Ciaran Griffiths. I was unsure whether I’d be able to source a seat with my standby festival pass. This show seemed like a hot ticket. Thankfully as I was early to the party, I was granted entrance. I made a beeline for the front row. Continue reading IDGTF Review: ‘All I see is you’ and ‘Bingo’→
FESTIVAL REVIEW: The Number (runs with A Southern Fairytale) Teachers Club until Saturday 11th.
“The Number”: Review by Kerric Harvey — May 7, 2019.
It’s nine p.m. in the Teachers Club studio theatre. A man walks out onto the stage, a man in casual pants and a flannel shirt, an ordinary man, someone you’d see walking down the street or waiting for a bus or trying to puzzle out how the hell to pay for parking at Dublin Airport.
This ordinary man walks out onto the stage, and begins to talk. And something extra-ordinary happens. For the next fifteen minutes, his quiet voice draws you into the photo album of his own early life, which, in some vague but palpable way, evokes your own memories, and invokes the ghosts of who you used to be, even if they look nothing like his.
But there is still a connection, somehow, between his tale and yours, which this honest and simple bit of beautifully structured first person story-telling establishes without fanfare, and with not a wasted word. In this short but memorable bit of biographical haiku, veteran DIGTF playwright/performer Simon Murphy has crafted a poetic intertwining of Ireland’s long journey towards decriminalisation with one lonely gay boy’s journey towards the man he would eventually become.
In Limerick, no less.
It only lasts a quarter of an hour, but “The Number” makes a big point — the notion that “the personal” is also inescapably political, whether we like it or not. In doing so, it offers a little gem of personal reminiscence tucked around tectonic plate shifts in the public sphere of gay politics.Continue reading Festival reviews: ‘The Number’→