Monday, November 2, 2015


VIEWTempleBar is an upcoming event in Temple Bar about arts and politics. It'll run from Thursday 19th to Sunday 22nd November 2015.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Review: 'Dancing at Lughnasa', DTF2015

This year's Dublin Theatre Festival features a production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa by Lyric Theatre Belfast.

Here's how the theatre festival describes it: "Set in County Donegal in 1936 during the Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasa, the play tells the story of the five Mundy sisters and their brother Jack, who has returned home from the missions after 25 years away. The story is told by the sisters’ nephew, Michael, who recalls the summer spent with his aunts when he was seven years old. As August gives way to September, Michael recounts his memory of childhood in Ballybeg, where his aunts raised him in their crumbling, rural home and where once they danced."

This was my first time seeing the play, and I won't try to critique it. I'll just say: I enjoyed it, the production quality was high, and it's usually a good sign if a play is still being performed long after it was written. RIP Brian Friel.

Dancing at Lughnasa runs in the Gaiety Theatre to 11th October 2015 as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Tickets cost from €15 to €45. The show starts at 7:30 pm and runs for about 2 hours 30 minutes including an interval.

Friday, July 24, 2015

And we're back...

Welcome back. After several quiet months, we're back for the festival season. So, here are a few of the key dates ahead. Enjoy!

Dublin Horse Show - 5th to 9th August
Irish Craft Beer & Cider Festival - 27th to 29th August in the RDS
Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival - 7th to 20th September
Culture Night - Friday 18th September
Dublin Theatre Festival - 24th September to 11th October
Open House - 16th October to 18th October

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: 'Men Like Us' in Smock Alley Theatre

Mouth on Fire is a theatre company set up to perform the plays of Samuel Beckett. They're in Smock Alley Theatre today at 3 pm and 8 pm with their production Men Like Us, featuring three Beckett plays: Matalang, Rough for Theatre II and The End. This approach of combining several Beckett shorts works well and is, in my experience, more enjoyable than watching a full-length Beckett play.

"Matalang", you ask? It's an Irish-language translation of Catastrophe, one of Beckett's best-known short plays. This is a good choice for translation - the physicality and snappy, repetitive dialogue makes this relatively easy for anyone such as myself with poor Irish. And if you've no Irish at all that's fine too; English-language text is projected above the performance.

I hadn't previously seen Rough for Theatre II or The End. Both were good, and performed well by Mouth on Fire. As always the Boys' School theatre in Smock Alley was helpfully atmospheric. I'd suggest sitting in the front row: you'll be wonderfully close to the action, and the dimensions of the venue mean that the high ceiling is mostly out of view when you're looking at the actors.

Tickets cost €15 / €12. The three pieces take about two hours including a 15 minute interval.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tradfest 2015

Not long now - Tradfest 2015 runs from 28th January to 1st February in Temple Bar. Although most of the music is Trad, you don't have to be a Trad fan to enjoy this. The venues and atmosphere are a major plus, and this really is the right time of year for a Trad festival. Feck it, I hope it rains, because it'll just make it all the cosier.

As is the way these days, there's a foodie add-on (Temple Bar Taste Trail), a photography exhibition, talks, workshops, and free events in many of the local pubs (Tradfest Music Trail). If you life craft beer I'd recommend the Norseman, and if you don't like craft beer I'd recommend the Norseman and drinking craft beer. The Porterhouse should be good too.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oxjam Takeover 17-19th October

Oxfam is having a music event at their Francis St premises.  All for charity, of course.

I particularly recommend seeing the Booka Brass Band, who Dave and I caught at this year's Electric Picnic.

Tickets are modestly priced.  Check it out.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Prom night all over again

The folks at Hunt & Gather are putting on an 80s Prom Night, which sounds like fun.  17th October in The Pint on Eden Quay.  Details below.

H&G 1st Birthday: PROM NIGHT class of '87

Its hard to believe it was only a year ago little auld Hunt & Gather threw one of the first of many gatherings. We firmly believe in celebrating in full debutante style.

We would like to formally ask you out to our very own PROM NIGHT....

Men, don your most ill fitted rented tux. Ladies, daub that ruby lipstick and backcomb your hair. It’s time to step out of the shadows for a night of cheese, nostalgia and oh so much hairspray as Hunt&Gather presents The Prom. 

We at H&G understand the importance of your Prom and like most people we wish you could go back and do it right. Well on the 17th of October we are letting you do just that!

Set in the eccentric location of The Pint we’ll transport you to a place of serious 1980/90’s prom fantasticness! We’ll have Dj’s blasting out all the classics and ‘the robot’ will be highly encouraged! We’ll have a photo booth ready for you to retake those Prom pictures (cringey backdrops included)! A make up corner to get your sparkle and shine on. There will also be a vote for our alternative Prom King and Queen so be prepared to strut your stuff to gain votes!

The Pint will be providing some sweet drinks deals and some spiked punch! There won’t be any principle tapping you on the shoulder as you dance to the wee hours of the morning!

We’ll be pre-selling tickets to this event so we suggest you pick yours up a.s.a.p. as there will be a limited number on offer!

Standard Admission Tickets : €12

Music curated by Discotekken TBA.

Hope to catch you on the dance floor!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: The Mariner

The Mariner is a play by Hugo Hamilton currently running in the Gate Theatre as part of the 2014 Dublin Theatre Festival. The Mariner is about a Royal Navy sailor who returns home in 1916 after being injured at the Battle of Jutland.

This might be one of those plays you'll either love or hate. The festival's blurb describes it as "exciting" - well no, sorry, it most certainly isn't. It's slow, dull, and feels rather too long. I'd be surprised if many audience members weren't relieved when it ended. But... it all depends what you're looking for. If you want a play to mull over, break down into layers and discuss or critique at length then The Mariner is a far more promising play. A play doesn't have to be exciting to be good; and the Mariner manages to be both superficially uninteresting yet enjoyable to consider at length. Perhaps it's like exercise or Beckett; sometimes you only appreciate it properly when it's over.

If you try to enjoy the play just at the level of the obvious plot and characters (mother, wife, returned sailor), you might well hate it. Arguably the key characters are the off-stage ones you hear about through the on-stage characters; some of these are based on real historical persons. And at the risk of overanalysing this, Hamilton seems to be operating on a few different layers here, all of which are just as important and valid as the literal interpretation. You might, for example, view the play with the mariner's identity being Ireland. At a push, you might even consider him to be a 20th century Will Mariner - do a google - or as being partly inspired by Hamilton's own search for identity. Your interpretations might differ.

Unfortunately though, whatever intriguing subtext the play possesses rests on a narrative too weak to support it.

Conclusion: 3/5 - a clever play that many will find boring.

The Mariner runs until 25th October 2014 in the Gate Theatre. The play's duration is about 90 minutes, with no interval. Tickets cost €25.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dublin Theatre Festival 2014

Tomorrow - 25th September 2014 - is the first day of this year's Dublin Theatre Festival. The DTF is the highlight of Dublin's "festival season", so I'd like to provide a few suggestions about what you might go see.

The Seagull And Other Birds - Pan Pan Theatre - I saw a rehearsal for this and was impressed and amused. Now, "reimagining of Anton Chekhov's much-loved comic masterpiece" with a play-within-a-play might not sound like it'll actually be funny, but this has potential. There's a different play in each performance, and the one I saw was just hilarious, a deliberate mockery of overly-ambitious art-house-style plays. If you're an infrequent theatre-goer The Seagull might not be for you, but if you're a regular, go see this.

Nearer to the other end of the conventionality spectrum is Spinning, "a contemporary tragedy" by Fishamble. As you might know Fishamble has a strong reputation, so hopefully this will live up to my expectations. I'll let you know.

After Sarah Miles - I saw this one-man play over the summer and gave it 4/5. My review is here. One caveat though: I saw the play in Smock Alley's Boys' School, and I'm not certain it'll work as well in the several venues it'll be shown in as part of the 'festival on tour'.

Hamlet - in German. This could be great, this could be terrible. *Sigh* - now I want to see Hamlet in Danish with the cast from Borgen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Culture Night is Friday!

Friday 19th September has happened yet and I already know it will be one of the best nights in Dublin city this year.  Why?  Because it's Culture Night.  Dave and I are big fans of the night and over the years, it has seen us try to do as many things as possible (11 is my record!) in one night and, in other more mature years, focus on a particular area.

Here's some links to our previous years coverage, since a lot of the same things are open each year.


2012 - this also includes links to some earlier Culture Nights.

Of these older posts, the places that stick in my mind are the GPO museum and the Freemason's Lodge.

And what about this year?

I'm time poor this year, so I've only got a tour of the Royal College of Surgeons and Malahide Castle on my list.  The former is entirely new to me, and the latter's tour has been revamped in recent years.  I will report back.

If I did have time, here's a few picks.

Tour of Áras an Uachtaráin - quite possibly booked out by now but definitely worth checking out.

Chester Beatty Library - A-Z highlights tour would provide a taster that will make you go back for more.

Dublin Writers Museum - get in there while it's free!

Leprechaun Museum - another one to get in while free, they've got 3 performances and a table quiz this year (surely not all about leprechauns though?)

RTÉ broadcasts Arena live from Meeting House Square - featuring a screening of the Man on Bridge documentary.

The Liberties walking tour - one of the few not booked out.

Whatever you do, make sure to head into town.  There's always a great buzz about the place and lots of people.  Dublin Bus provide some free transport to get around the city.  If you were thinking of using a Dublin bike, get one early and keep it.  They go quickly on Culture Night - even with the new increased capacity.

Have a brilliant night!