In the final weeks of January semi-live theatre is making a comeback in Ireland.
‘The Approach’ by Mark O’Rowe is being performed live at the Project Arts Centre from the 21st to the 24th January. ‘Happy Days’ by Samuel Beckett is being staged on January 30th at the Olympia. The shows will be streamed around the world. The seats in the theatres will remain empty.
I am currently engaged in an internal debate whether or not to get a ticket for either or both shows. I know that the Mark O’Rowe play would be worth seeing – having attended‘Howie the Rookie’ in the Civic Theatre in Tallaght before lockdown last year I was blown away by the performance of Stephen Jones in the title role of an incredible play. It may be blasphemous to say it, but I’d be more reluctant to see the Beckett play. Perhaps I lack the intellectual ability to understand his work? Having seen ‘Waiting for Godot’ in Smock Alley Theatre, I was slightly bewildered at the hype. Samuel Beckett is like the sacred cow of Irish theatre – a lack of appreciation of his work reveals you to be a philistine. I remain ambivalent about him. However ‘Happy Days’ is being performed by Siobhan McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael to perfection in ‘Derry Girls’ so she’d be the main attraction for this show for me.
Each year over the Christmas and New Year period, the Abbey (Ireland’s national theatre) stages a show with an extended run. These productions tend to be crowd-pleasers which suits the time of year, and also act as slightly more adult counterparts to the insanity of the panto season. For the past three years I have attended – ‘Drama at Inish’ last year; ‘Come from away’ in 2018; and ‘Let the right one in’ in 2017. All were wonderful.
I received a call from a friend a couple of days before the new lockdown for Dublin was declared; asking if I’d be interested in accompanying her to the Druid Theatre production of ‘Druid Gregory’ in the grounds of Coole Park in Gort on Sunday evening. She had acquired a pair of tickets for the sold out show. I had a very brief internal debate about the wisdom of traveling West on the weekend that the capital closed up shop once again. Considering I live alone, work from home and only meet a small handful of people at a socially distanced level on any given week, my decision was easy. I was going to the theatre for only the second time since March (in August I went to see Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ by Bewley’s Café Theatre in the Irish Georgian Society building on South William Street in Dublin.
In a different world, a long, long time ago I used to go to the theatre on a regular basis. I had a highly developed skill for sniffing out early bird tickets, deep discounts and freebies for shows. I look back on that distant time with nostalgia and vague melancholy. I am being sarcastic of course. That was only three weeks ago. However it’s like another time zone from a planet far, far away. Continue reading Day 19: Theatrical reminiscences – ‘Dirtbirds’→
Thursday was the day that I had planned to travel to Latvia and Lithuania for the first time. With the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic running amok, my plans were altered last week as soon as Ryanair announced that it would not be charging passengers to rebook flights for later in the year. Here’s hoping that by August this incredibly weird, semi-lockdown experience might have passed. Continue reading From a distance – Day 8: The Coronavirus Diaries and a trip to the theatre→
Judder Theatre’s latest production is Harold Pinter’s one act play ‘The Dumb Waiter’. It premiered in Chaplin’s Pub on Hawkins Street last night. I was in attendance.
Pub theatre – long a means of staging theatre in the UK – seems to be expanding in Ireland. It makes sense considering how prohibitively expensive theatre rental has become, coupled with the fact that most bars have an empty upstairs room that can house productions, and allows the audience to enjoy a few sociables after the show. Judder began life upstairs from Doyles on College Green. The new location in Chaplins is a more comfortable space and a pleasant place to catch a show. Continue reading Theatrical: ‘The Dumb Waiter’ by Harold Pinter→
‘The Fall of the Second Republic’ by the Corn Exchange officially opens on the main stage of the Abbey Theatre this Thursday. I have already seen it twice.
Late last year I purchased an ‘early bird’ preview ticket for a tenner for the Tuesday performance. On Monday however, as I was walking past the Abbey on my way home I noticed a queue winding its way down the street beside the theatre. That meant one thing only – the ‘first free preview’. The time was 6.15pm. Like a hot snot I darted across the road to inquire whether there were still free tickets available when they would be distributed shortly. The news was good. I had no plans that evening and watching the Monday performance would enable me to attend the ‘intimidating and bullying’ public meeting by Sinn Fein in Liberty Hall around the corner the following night. (This bizarre description of the Sinn Fein meeting was given by acting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who apparently believes that politicians and their parties must only engage with the public at very specific times before elections – maybe that’s why Fine Gael lost a quarter of its seats two weeks ago). Continue reading Theatrical: ‘The Fall of the Second Republic’ at the Abbey Theatre→
I’ve been watching the hideous charade of Irish political posturing over the past fortnight since the general election. It is enough to make you feel nauseous. Fianna Fail and Fine Gael need to get the finger out and start their coalition talks in public, as the entire country knows that they are negotiating in the background already. These parties’ pretence that this is not happening is a charade, and insults the intelligence of the electorate. Continue reading Fianna Gael or Fine Fáil – the toxic twosome→
On Tuesday night I made my first visit of the week to my old homeplace of Tallaght to see a play at the Civic Theatre. The show I was attending is called ‘Two Minutes’ by Breda McCann, which is running all week at the Civic Studio (the upstairs black box space that has been the laboratory for much great theatre – including ‘Class’ which I saw in its updated form in the main space last year). Continue reading Theatrical: ‘Two minutes’ by Breda McCann at the Civic→
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’→