Monday, December 31, 2012

NYE party in the Little Green

From the Little Green Cafe & Bar on High Street, Dublin 8:

The NYE Summer Soulstice
The Little Green Bar & Secret Location

December 31st
18:00 - 06:00
*60's dress is essential*

Are you pining for those long summer festival days spent in the lovely company of a few friends, warm weather and a cold beer in hand....

This New Years Eve we're shaking off the winter blues and putting on our dancing shoes with a Sixties Summer Festival inspired all nighter. We've have 12 hours of Soul, Northern Soul, Funk, Rock N' Roll & Motown dished out by 12 of Dublin's best spread across two venues.

We're setting the mood by transforming The Little Green from a Café/Gallery, Bar into a charming Woodstock like festival site equipped with Tee Pee's, Bunting, Fairy Lights & all things beautifully retro and festival like. From 6pm - 1am we'll be ringing in the New year in swinging style in The Little Green before making our way to our super secret All Nighter location.

Admission to The Little Green is free, tickets for the All Nighter are E20 and the first 200 tickets are available to reserve by sending a mail to little.green.gallery@gmail.com. (Reservations of tickets is highly advised to guarantee entry as tickets available on the night are from The Little Green only and the bar will hit capacity at an early stage).

Your ticket will get you a wealth of goodies...
Your wristband to the All Nighter party
A glass of bubbly to toast in the new year
Finger food at The Little Green
**we will also be letting off 200 wish balloons at midnight**
Ticket holders will receive a helium filled balloon to write their wishes for 2013 on and let them off into the night.

Whether you're a Mod, Hippie or Go-Go we want to see you in your Fred Perry's, your Bell Bottom's, your Tie Dye, your Bandana's, your Box Shaped PVC's & your Mop Tops depending on what you're into!!|

This New Years Eve we're going to party like it's 1969!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Kill Me, Deadly

No Drama Theatre's latest production is a comedy called Kill Me, Deadly, a parody of film noir gangster movies such as the 1955 film which presumably inspired the play's name, Kiss Me Deadly. This is the first Irish production of the play. The story follows private detective Charlie Nickels, played by Keith Cooper, whose investigations on behalf of a wealthy client lead him through Los Angeles' bars and seedy backalleys, in pursuit of truth, stolen goods, and a blonde femme fatale.

Although No Drama Theatre is an amateur group they have a track record of successful and entertaining productions. This time though the stagecraft was amateur in the pejorative sense - from problems with props to curtains that didn't operate properly, and most of all mismatches between lighting and the on-stage action. It's easy to take the backstage ninjas for granted, and I admit that I rarely comment on a job well done, but sadly their work is most evident when it goes wrong.

The play was saved by the actors. No Drama is primarily an improv group and perhaps this helped them cope well with surprises. I've seen professional actors horribly ignore errant props, but the actors in this production struck just the right balance between getting on with the script and responding to the unexpected. Keith Cooper's physical acknowledgement of a door not opening properly turned it into part of the comedy, something the audience could laugh at without mocking the production. Sarah Moloney, playing Mona Livingston, coped equally well when a match wouldn't light. And leaving aside the stagecraft, there's some great material to work with in the script; wonderfully clichéd noir dialogue and monologue.

Maybe the best thing I can say about this play is that it left me wanting to watch film noir. It's not a style I've seen much of - or have much cared for - but this parody makes it look interesting. Funny and enjoyable. Go see it, baby.

Kill Me Deadly runs in the Sean O'Casey Community Centre theatre until Saturday 8th December 2012. Tickets cost €12 (€10 concession) and can be booked here. The play starts at 8 pm and runs for a little over 2 hours 30 minutes including the interval.

PS It looks like there'll be a film based on the play released next year - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2022441/.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New plays

Ah, the inevitable difficulty of choosing between plays. Tonight is the opening night of a production of Kill Me Deadly by No Drama Theatre, but also the start of preview showings of Jezebel in Project Arts Centre. As Jezebel is in preview and has a longer run, I'll be going to see the No Drama production. It's on in the nice but hard-to-find-for-the-first-time Sean O'Casey Community Centre Theatre in Eastwall.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

First Thursdays - December 2012

December 6th is another 'First Thursday', when galleries and other cultural spaces stay open late, frequently with launches or special events. It's run by Temple Bar Cultural Trust and details of this month's First Thursday are here.

At 5:30 pm the Christmas lights will be switched on in Temple Bar's Old City, with mulled wine and mince pies. (Actually the lights seem to have been on for some time already so I'm not quite sure what TBCT have in mind... but hey, mulled wine and mince pies.) Then at 6 pm First Thursday proper kicks off; officially it continues until 8 pm but sometimes individual venues are still open after that.

Worth a look: Project Arts Centre for their tour of their latest exhibition; Little Green Street Gallery launch a new exhibition (and their launches are fun); Science Gallery; White Lady Art, a new gallery just recently opened.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Big Smoke Writing - Winter Literary Cafe

Big Smoke Writing are holding their Winter Literary Café event later today. It's on from 6 pm to 9 pm in The Back Loft in La Catedral Studios. There'll be readings from Big Smoke's students and guests, live music and mulled wine. The event is free and based on my previous experience of this I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Goblin Market: Irish New Contemporary Art Book Launch and Exhibition'

Alexa from White Lady Art mailed me this press release recently (below) for the newly opened gallery's first book launch. If you haven't been to any parties in art galleries, you're missing out and I suggest you give it a try. The gallery is on the quays in Temple Bar.
GOBLIN MARKET: IRISH NEW CONTEMPORARY ART BOOK LAUNCH AND EXHIBITION

Launch party 6pm Saturday 1st December
Exhibition of artwork from the book's artists for two weeks: 1.12.12 - 15.12.12.
BYOB - drinks for early birds
Goblin Market is the first publication from White Lady Art Books, featuring work from 35 of Ireland's finest New Contemporary artists. These artists are working and exhibiting in Ireland, and their artwork will be displayed in the White Lady Art gallery for two weeks.

The 35 artists who are showcased in the book work in a variety of styles that can be placed under the banner of New Contemporary art: there are urban artists, pop surrealists, outsider, folk surrealists, body horror artists, and lowbrow artists. New Contemporary art has a major following in America, Europe and the U.K., and Ireland has much to offer as well. It is high time that these unusual, unique and technically excellent artists are given recognition and appreciation in a broader context, and it is with great pleasure that White Lady Art can offer you the chance to see their work in an exhibition to accompany the launch of the book.

Goblin Market is a hardback coffee table book, that can stand up proudly beside others of its kind, and would make an ideal gift for any art lover or aficionado of the underground art scene in Ireland. The book is the first of its kind to promote New Contemporary art as a movement in itself, and the White Lady Art gallery is where you can source artwork in this style.

The launch party will be a great occasion, marking the year spent developing and honing the book into something we can all be proud of. We would like to invite you to come and celebrate the artwork and artists at this very special event.

Goblin Market facebook page:
www.facebook.com/goblinmarketirishnewcontemporaryart
Book launch and exhibition event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/381813395234376/?notif_t=plan_user_joined
Website
http://www.whiteladyart.com/index.php/exhibitions/71-goblin-market-irish-new-contemporary-art-book-launch-and-exhibition

Monday, November 26, 2012

A different type of Dublin review

We've all been rather busy in recent times and the blog has been looking sparse but in a renewed effort to bring you something a little bit different, I wanted to continue my series of books about Dublin.

With the recent Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in mind, I want to highlight the novels of Tana French.  She's the author of four novels and I have read them all this year.  While not strictly sequels, there is a common theme of a fictional "murder squad" of Gardaí based in Dublin Castle.  A minor character from one book might be the main character in the next, and so on.  So yes, they're crime stories and they're all set in or around Dublin.  Sometimes she renames a suburb but to me it's always pretty obvious where the basis in reality lies.  I'll do my best to avoid spoilers and stick to the information that's on the blurbs.  All of her novels are easily available in paper and digital formats.

Her four novels in reading order are In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place and Broken Harbour.  Each follows a murder investigation, usually told in first person narrative.  By chance, I read Faithful Place first, and it did not particular harm to the plots of the first two books.  I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down.  It centers on a hard undercover cop, Frank Mackey, and his quest to discover what happened his teenaged girlfriend who disappeared the night she was to run away with him.  This book is set in and around the Liberties.  I felt it was a wonderful evocation of a real community with fully rounded characters and a compulsive plot that kept me reading well past lights out every night.

In a similar vein, The Likeness was really hard to put down.  The plot of this requires a small suspension of belief but it's well worth it.  Again told in first person narrative, it really reminded me of Donna Tartt's The Secret History for its collection of quirky college students interdependent on each other and heady portrayal of that first taste of adult independent life.

French's first novel, which won several awards, In the Woods cleverly links a cold case murder with an ongoing investigation.  The main character has a major conflict of interests with both the case and his partner leading to a complex and not entirely satisfying resolution, which made it all the more realistic for me.  It features the main character from The Likeness in a best supporting role as the partner.

Ironically, given its recent win at the book awards, I think Broken Harbour is the weakest of French's novels, but it's possibly because I just plain didn't like the main character.  Even that impresses me: often when I don't feel empathy for a main character, I stop reading a book, but I read this one straight through because I *had* to find out what happened.

A recent article with French tells me she is working on a fifth Murder Squad book and I'll be looking out for that next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

'Blood Ties' in the New Theatre

Focus Theatre have an upcoming production in the New Theatre. I'm going to be lazy yet informative and just put up the press release, below:


The Focus Theatre in association with The New Theatre present

“Blood Ties” (3 One act plays) by Andy Hinds.

3rd to 15th December 2012, The New Theatre

‘The darker aspects of human nature are laid bare, in this questioning of contemporary relationships’

ANAEMIA

Jonathan is visiting his daughter Gracie, whose blood count has been dropping ever since he opted to live away from the family home. As his wife tries every possible means to coax Jonathan to come back, the darker aspects of the couple’s relationship are laid bare.

Cast:Paul Marron & Audrey McCoy

Director:Andy Hinds

FIRST OF THE DAY

As a motley collection of ‘street drinkers’organise their first tipple of the day we gradually come to know the circumstances that have brought the characters to this way of life, and equally the fears and self-delusions that tie them to it.

Cast: Joe Purcell, Stephen Colfer, Graeme Singleton& Colette Kelly

Director:Andy Hinds

MORNING

A father waits to learn if his prematurely-born child is going to survive the night Slowly revealed are the exceptional circumstances which have lead to the conception of the child together with the potentially redemptive effect the child’s survival will have for the father.

Cast: Andy Hinds

Director:Paul Kennedy

Venue: The New Theatre

Dates: 3rd to 15th December 2012, nightly @ 7.30pm (previews 03rd & 4th Dec)

Tickets:€15/12/10, ph 01 6703361
www.thenewtheatre.com

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: 'The Poor Mouth' in Project Arts Centre

Blue Raincoat Theatre Company currently have a new play running in Project Arts Centre. The The Poor Mouth is an adaptation of the Flann O'Brien novel of the same name. The theatre company have previously produced adaptations of two other O'Brien novels, At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman. The Poor Mouth is a parody of a style of Irish literature more common in O'Brien's time, devoted to moaning about the hardship of Irish life - the dreadful weather, the centuries of oppression, the abject poverty, and so on. The protagonist, Bónapárt Ó Cúnasa, lives with his family in a rural, Irish-speaking area, and the play tells us of his trials and misfortunes.

I saw the play having deliberately avoided any prior knowledge of it - I've read The Third Policeman (yes, Lost) but not The Poor Mouth, so I can't comment on how faithful an adaptation it is and this review is entirely aimed at the rest of you who haven't read the book. Take it as a positive sign that having seen the play I want to read the novel.

There's a lot to like about this production. The music is lively, the story is enjoyable, the stage is a lovely grey-green-brown map of Ireland dotted with little cottages, and O'Brien's mockery of gaelgoirs is hilarious and inspires by far the best scene of the play. I would have appreciated all of this more if the stage-lighting hadn't been pointed outwards towards the audience. Alright, it was at an angle and I was unfortunate to be in the worse possible spot (front row, left) but nonetheless the dramatic effect doesn't justify dazzling the unlucky spectators who're seated in the wrong place.

A more serious problem on the night I saw the play was that actress Ruth Lehane (playing the protagonist Ó Cúnasa) stumbled over her lines far too often. As Ó Cúnasa's dialogue dominates the play and at times is almost a monologue this was particularly noticeable.

And is it just me or did man-dressing-as-a-woman humour stop being funny some time last century?

The Poor Mouth is excellent in parts and enjoyable overall, but its cleverness isn't enough to make this an entirely satisfying performance.

Rating: 3 / 5

The Poor Mouth runs in Project Arts Centre, East Essex Street, until 24th November 2012. Performances start at 8 pm with a duration of about 1 hour 40 minutes without an interval. There is also a matinee at 3 pm on 24th November. Tickets cost from €16 to €20.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dublin Book Festival 13-18 November

The Dublin Book Festival is back next week for its 7th iteration.  Not to be confused with the writers festival earlier in the year, it takes place mostly in Temple Bar using Smock Alley and the Gutter Bookshop for events. The list of authors involved took me about 10 minutes to read through, and includes people who have not written books but are somehow involved.  It's also weirdly formatted alphabetically by first name.  There's lots of activities for kids as well as adults and these are mostly free.

A full list of events can be found on the website.  Tickets (and there is a small charge) do need to be booked for some things.  Here's a selection I think look interesting.

Tuesday 13th November (evening)
Dervla Murphy and Alice Taylor in conversation with Sean Rocks of RTÉ's Arena.

Thursday 15th November (evening)
Current affairs discussion with Vincent Browne and guests.

Friday 16th November (at lunchtime and evening)
Inspiration for Writers: The Dos and Don’ts of Getting Published

The New Generation of Publishers: eBooks vs Books

Saturday 17th November (lunchtime)
In Memory of Maeve Binchy – Patricia Scanlan, Sheila O’Flanagan and Sinéad Moriarty. Chaired by Mary Maher

Also that day, in the evening at the Gutter Book shop:
Are We All Revisionists Now? Irish Historians and the Decade of Centenaries


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Coffeeangel on South Anne Street

Coffeeangel has recently opened a new cafe on South Anne Street, just off Dawson Street. Although the area has many existing cafes I can say without doubt that this is the best.

OK, so 'best' is pretty subjective in matters of taste, and I prefer light-roast coffee to dark-roasted "classic cup" or milky coffees. If you like good filter coffee then Coffeeangel is superb: both of the aeropress coffees I've tried were as good or better than any other filters I've ever had, even better than 3fe filter coffees. 3fe (Third Floor Espresso) is my benchmark for excellence in coffee, and has played a huge part in improving coffee in Dublin. Coffeeangel might be even better.

Oh, and the espresso is good too.

The cafe is a pop-up and might continue only until January. I sure hope it lasts longer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A scare at Halloween

I meant to post this earlier today but have spent most of it afraid to go outside.  It's only now as the witching hour approaches that I feel I can do justice to the wonderful atmosphere of my experience last night at the Leprechaun Museum's Halloween event.  It's a strictly over 18s piece of performance theatre running nightly until 4th November. It celebrates our ancient festival of Samhain, from whence all modern Halloween comes.  To give details would to be spoil many of the surprises and scares but suffice to say: do not go if you are afraid of the dark, or of ghosts, or things that might creep up on you.  At times it reminded of LARPs I've played and run and at others, I felt I was part of a special Halloween edition of the Crystal Maze.  It's certainly of the treat variety and gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: 'Bound'


"Four women. Four stories. One profession."

Sharing a venue with Connolly Books, it's perhaps unsurprising that The New Theatre often showcases plays with social or political themes. Bound is set in a brothel in rural Ireland and tells the stories of four prostitutes - how they got into their profession and how they feel about it. Though their backgrounds vary, the womens' lives are all dominated by their relationships with the clients and with the ruthless pimp who runs the business. The play depicts a more-or-less normal day in the brothel.

Although Bound is about the four prostitutes the pimp is also provided the opportunity for self-justification; and if this falls a little flat then perhaps this is only because the case being argued is not equally valid. (To take a quote from an entirely different context, "the facts have a well-known liberal bias".) Given that many real life campaigns against prostitution (such as Turn Off the Red Light) highlight the importance of demand, it's a missed opportunity not to complete the examination of the motivations involved by providing a similar insight into the customers' rationalisations. We are offered reasons for their actions but in most cases, unlike with the pimp, little understanding of each john as anything more than an antagonist.

Despite the almost inevitable grimness of the subject matter Bound manages to entertain without trivialising the issue. The play is clearly aiming to humanise its protagonists and leave the audience empathising with them, and in this Bound is a success.

'Bound' starts at 8 pm each evening and continues in The New Theatre in Temple Bar until 27th October 2012. Tickets cost €12 / €10. The show runs for 70 minutes without an interval and contains strong language and explicit content.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Writing 3.0

Fingal's annual Writers' Festival is back from 2nd to 10th November.  Writing 3.0 is unsurprisingly the third iteration of this successful event.  The focus is on amateur writers and how they can become professionals.  A couple of events I like the look of:

Coder Dojo for kids in Rush Library on 2nd November
How to write a book in a year with Jacinta McDevitt on 5th November
Where have you been? Joseph O'Connor reads from his latest collection of short stories at Farmleigh on 9th November
Writing for the stage with THIS IS POP BABY in Draíocht on 10th November

There are a number of events repeating themselves, like screenwriting workshops in various libraries.

All events are free but booking is essential.  Some things are already booked out, so get straight onto it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sylvia's Quest in Dundrum Town Centre

One of the best shows this year was Sylvia's Quest by Wonderland Productions. It originally ran in Temple Bar but there's currently a short run on in Dundrum Town Centre. The final shows are tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bram Stoker Festival 2012

Dublin's Festival Season isn't quite over yet. The city's first Bram Stoker Festival is on over the long weekend, from 26th to 28th October 2012. The festival features a mix of literary, film, theatre and street events.

More on this later.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Family Voices / One For The Road

Theatre company Fast Intent are back with more Harold Pinter works for us to enjoy. Pinter, the winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, has a Beckett-like quality to his plays, and Fast Intent have used his material before to good effect. Their latest production consists of two Pinter plays, Family Voices and One For The Road.

Family Voices is a three-actor play based on a radio script. It's engaging enough, but the real quality of the evening comes from the second piece, the fascinating and vicious One For The Road. The well-written programme for the production quite wisely avoids giving away the concept, and I will hold the same convention here. I'll just say that while it's not physically gruesome the subject matter is, um, somewhat harsh. The phrase most often used is "comedy of menace", and while Pinter himself seems not to have liked the phrase it does capture the ambience of the play. Daniel Costello, playing Nicholas, conveys a wonderful joy and enthusiasm in his dark and intimidating role, providing a far more thoughtful take on the subject of the play than if Pinter had resorted to simple statements of morality. If this doesn't make sense without having seen the play... sorry - go see it!

The production continues until 13th October, starting at 7:30 pm each evening and running for 55 minutes without an interval. Tickets cost €12.50, or €10 for groups of 10 or more.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cause & Effect

Tonight is the second and final night for the improv show Cause & Effect in the Mill Theatre, Dundrum. I saw the show yesterday and enjoyed it. Given that parts of the show are based on audience suggestions, it won't be the same show tonight as on Friday, but my guess is that you'll enjoy it if you see it.

In the first half of the show a member of the audience was invited up on stage to take part in an improvised story. This sounds like a high-risk concept and perhaps it could go wrong on the night, but Neil Curran of Herewego Theatre and his guest were superb. As well as enjoying this section of the show in its own right, I'm also delighted to see a theatre company successfully give a member of the audience the chance to really interact instead of merely being acted upon. I'm a fan of immersive theatre but at times its scripting can create an unpleasant sense of powerlessness. Improv - at least in this format - takes the final step and gives an equality to the audience member. And the uncertainty of it all, the possibility of failure, adds to the drama.

The second half of Cause & Effect used ideas provided by the audience to inspire improv scenes by the three actors. It was good, but not as polished as the first half. More precisely, many of the scenes were good but there were just too many scenes. Using the interval to cut down the number might have helped.

I should also mention that Mill Theatre benefits from being part of Dundrum Town Centre (as they call the shopping centre down there). On a cold but dry Friday evening there was a lovely buzz to the area. As well as the bars and restaurants nearby, the theatre has its own bar. The staff were friendly and theatre-goers can bring drinks into the studio-theatre being used for Cause & Effect, although this is not permitted for the main theatre.

Tickets cost €12 / €10 and the show starts at 8:15 pm.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Other plays

I'm sure many of you are (quite rightly) enthusiastic about the timetable for Dublin Theatre Festival, but I thought it's worth mentioning a few other plays on these days.

La Touche Players are performing two plays each night in The Teachers Club on Parnell Street, Couch and The Drowning Room. Tickets are €14 (to see both plays) and the plays run until 6th October. Details here.

The Night Joe Dolan's Car Broke Down is on in the Olympia at the moment. Tickets cost €20 at Ticketmaster.ie. Here's the description: "Imagine being stranded with the legendary Joe Dolan in a rural pub in Cavan on the night his car breaks down. That’s just the sort of fantasy scenario that’s imagined in “The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down” a new play written and directed by Padraic McIntyre. The play is set on a stormy St. Stephen’s night as people gather to celebrate the 60th birthday party of the The Horse Munley. As the storm worsens and people head home, a knock to the door brings the night’s entertainment to a new level. As the play unfolds so too does personal secrets, the music and the craic. " Actually, that does sound fun.

Finally, I'd like to mention a show I'll be seeing this evening. Herewego Theatre's Cause & Effect is "a night of fully improvised theatre". Tickets are €12 and the show is on in the Mill Theatre Studio in Dundrum tonight and Saturday 6th October. Improv can take a little more concentration to enjoy than a scripted play would, but when it works it's wonderful. The people behind this show are very keen on improv and have a lot of experience, so this should be good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blindfolded concert

The National Concert Hall has come up with a cool idea to fundraise for Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Week.  On Wednesday, 26th September a lunch time audience will be blindfolded to hear a program of music and other entertainment. Mary Kennedy will host the show and various surprise celebrity performances are promised. Tickets are only a tenner and all the proceeds go to the National Council for the Blind.

Tickets are available here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The IMMA as a concert venue

Last week I had the pleasure to attend one of the concerts given by Leonard Cohen, held on the grounds of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, in Kilmainham. The concert itself was, predictably, wonderful, aided by the marvelous clear weather we had on the day, but I was so impressed by the place as a venue that I wanted to say a few words about it here.

Ordinarily, of course, the IMMA houses visual art exhibitions, but at times it yields its substantial greenspace to musical events. Leonard Cohen has performed there before, and, each year, the Forbidden Fruit festival is held there as well. On this occasion at least, everything ran like a clockwork. The gates were opened three hours before Cohen took the stage at 7.15 pm. We sauntered to the site around 5.30 pm, had some drink, had some food, wandered around the food area, which to me resembled an idealised village green more than anything else, with a varied selection of pleasantly grown up foods and drinks. We found our seats quickly and effectively. Wide aisles had been left between sections of seats to enable as easy passage as possible. At no point were there queues or waiting. I heard several other people remark on this too. Even during the show, if an overwhelming need overtook you, it was easy to get to the toilet or to the bar or the food stalls. The only serious queues I saw formed outside the ladies toilets during the interval, but this should be no surprise to anyone. At the end, exiting was painless. Never mind the fact that that show started on time.

I don't know if this is how such events usually work at IMMA or whether we were lucky, or whether the nature of the concert and the attendees contributed to it. Nonetheless, well done! Probably the most enjoyable concert venue to which I have been.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

September on the Square

Taking place on the nights around Culture Night, Merrion Square is doing something a little bit different.

The Irish Architectural Archive is hosting two special events in September.

Dancing on the Square attempts to recreate the original society experience of a house in Merrion Square with ballroom dancing experts on 20/09.  It's free but booking is essential.

Dining on the Square is a one-off Georgian banquet on 22/09.  Tickets for this cost a pricey €100 and can be booked online.  They suggest evening dress too.  I think it sounds brilliant fun.


Culture Night 21st September

Alright, I'm starting to get excited.  It is a mere week away from Culture Night 2012.  We are veteran Culture Nighters here and if you're a newbie, I would humbly suggest you review our previous reviews from 2010 and 2011, when we walked the legs off ourselves to cover as many events as possible.  My record stands at 11 different galleries, museums and locations in 2010.

Previous mentions:

Nina on 2011

Claire on 2011

Dave's 2011 photos

Claire on 2010

So what's new and interesting for this year?  First off, there's a nifty app, which I've just downloaded.  There's both an Android and Iphone version.  That's going to come in handy on the night and offers GPS action to show what's on near you and allows you to make a list of your plan.  Here's a selection of some new things and other recommendations.

City Assembly House
Renovated by the Irish Georgian Society, this South William St purpose built gallery was derelict for a long time.  Fittingly, it's hosting an exhibition of Tarquin Blake's Abandoned Mansions photographs on Culture night.

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre
This is one of my favourite buildings in Dublin.  Tours of centre, visit the Dolls Hospital or eat.  This place is not normally open later than 8pm so a nice opportunity to see it at night.

Whitefriar St Church
Visit the shrine to St Valentine!  They're open until 23:00.

One of the very best things about Culture Night is that things are free which normally cost, so if money has put you off seeing the Dublin Writers Museum or Kilmainham Gaol (though go early - massive queues last year and I didn't get to see it) or the Book of Kells, then make an effort to go now.  I know I always harp on about seeing Leinster House and the Freemason Lodge but seriously, they are so worth the queues.  Finally, if you can't get into town but are able to do something car based, I suggest the Pearse Museum in Rathfarnham or Glasnevin cemetery (which has both tours and a museum).  There's a list of county council district events here.  There is quite literally something for everybody.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cultural educations

If you are anything like me, you never quite got over school. September brings with it a certain sense of a new year, a desire to do something new and inspiring with your mind or body. Perhaps the festival season is one manifestation of that, too. A yearning to find a channel for that autumnal energy. As we see at the checkouts of newsagents, the ever-increasing number of evening courses, even in these lean times, seems to indicate that a great many people are still looking for new hobbies or new education at this time of the year.

I am not going to do a post on all evening courses available out there, because Dave and Claire would get angry with me for hogging the blog for the next year, at which point I'd have to start over again. I have, however, trawled through the selection of the largest institutions of the city and reviewed their offerings. What follows is an entirely subjective list of courses that I found appealing and/or quirky.

Dublin City University: No evening courses. (My own university. I remain disappointed.)

Dublin Institute of Technology: No evening courses. (For shame.)

National College of Art and Design: Unfortunately the last date for application for their evening courses was 7 September. Apologies for missing this one.

Trinity College: Now we're talking. TCD's evening course selection remains respectable from year to year, and, in fairness, mostly unchanged. There are lots of languages - from ancient Classical ones to Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Turkish and Korean - and plenty of activity from the departments of Classics, History and Religions and Theology. For me, what stands out from the selection is an intriguing-sounding course on Magic. I for one am looking forward to Advanced Thaumaturgy next year.

University College Dublin: The most massive selection of evening courses, presented online in a slightly difficult pdf format, which means I can't link to individual courses. However, here my eye was caught by Revolutionary States: Home Rule & Modern Ireland, taught by the Curator of Education and staff of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Discovering Dublin from the archaeological perspective, A History of Irish Theatre in Ten Scandals, Folklore: The Supernatural World (I hope they work with the Leprechaun Museum), Magic, Heresy and Witchcraft in the Medieval times, Popular Literature. In the spring semester, we have A History of Irish Food and Reading Paris: A Literary Tour from Balzac to Rimbaud. There is medieval history available throughout the year, including a module on medieval war and society, which promises to investigate where some of the influences on A Game of Thrones came from. In the third semester, I see Hellfire Clubs in Eighteenth Century Ireland and A History of Hidden Dublin from Monto to Little Jerusalem. 

Phew. Now go get yourselves some education!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: The Horse Trading Diaries

Run Amok Theatre Company's new play The Horse Trading Diaries is inspired by the visit of Che Guevara to Ireland in 1965. Set in a (fictional) hotel in Limerick, the play is a dark comedy about the reactions and intrigues of the staff and guests of the hotel in response to Guevara's arrival.

The Horse Trading Diaries is Shane Burke's second play. His first, Flipside, was one of the most impressively high-quality debut plays I've seen. The Horse Trading Diaries shares a similar structure in that there isn't just one single protagonist. Instead, we get to see events from multiple perspectives, and as in Flipside this keeps the play moving along nicely throughout.


Colm Kenny-Vaughan (left) as Tim and Conor Scott (right) as Michael

The play's name is a reference to The Motorcycle Diaries, a biographical travelogue about Guevara in the days before he became a revolutionary, but in The Horse Trading Diaries Guevara is just passing through and is not a man of action so much as a catalyst for action by the other characters. Actor Ian Meehan faces a major challenge in portraying the iconic and charismatic Guevara, and though his depiction is a little understated this is more interesting than presenting the revolutionary as a larger-than-life figure dominating the other characters by his mere presence. Decades after his death it's easy to see the man as a legend instead of as the brave and contentious killer his contempories must have viewed him as.

To the extent that this complex play can be reduced to a single main theme, it's Ireland's relationship with revolution and rebellion. As Shakespeare put it, 'the eye sees not itself but by reflection', and Guevara's visit gives playwright Burke (and his characters) a way to look at Ireland's attitude to the heroes and villains of its history; and as the production's programme points out, at the time of Guevara's visit the then Taoiseach and President of Ireland were both former revolutionaries. Conor Scott is well cast as Michael, the hotel manager and former rebel, and provides some of the best dialogue of the play in discussing his past. The New Theatre is a particularly fitting venue for this production given that it's housed in the same location as the socialist bookshop Connolly Books. Ireland's rebellious history undoubtedly continues to influence our attitudes today, and is presumbly one reason for the recent controversial plans for a statue of Guevara in Galway.

'The Horse Trading Diaries' is undoubtedly good, but I should give a slight word of caution. Although billed as a comedy the play's humour varies widely in style and is often quite dry; perhaps unsurprisingly given the darkness of its themes. If you're looking for quality and wit in a play you'll be well rewarded by Run Amok's latest work - just don't expect a light-hearted comedy full of easy laughs.

Rating: ****

The Horse Trading Diaries runs until 8th September in the New Theatre in Temple Bar, starting at 8 pm each evening and ending around 9:45 pm, including a 15 minute interval. Tickets cost €15 / €12.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Irish Craft Beerfest

Considering I don't even like beer I seem to be posting about it a lot... What can I say, we know our audience.

The Irish Craft Beerfest will take place at the RDS on 7-9 September. A great many fantastic* Irish brewers are getting together to show their products to the thirsty and to the appreciative. Tickets can be acquired on Ticketmaster and in selected establishments, which will be listed on the website "soon".


*How do I know that if I don't drink beer myself? Because I read things, and have a husband who very much drinks beer, and because I really the attitude and personality of many of these brewers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Handmaidcraft Day

After a very successful first year, Handmaidcraft Day returns to Dublin on 22nd September.  Why am I telling you a month in advance?  Well, booking is now open for classes in Damer Hall on St Stephen's Green.  And they will book up fast if last year is anything to go by.  Entry will cost a fiver on the day and they will have all kinds of crafty goodness on sale.  Proceeds will go to the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A full list of classes is here, and you can book online.  I quite fancy having a go at origami.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oktober come early

It's a busy weekend in Dublin town, with many a gorgeous sight at the riverside - and the ships ain't bad either. The festival season is seriously kicking off, so you can expect plenty of updates from your favourite event bloggers.

Arthur's Day is nothing compared to the German Oktoberfest. For some years now, Dublin has had its own version of this mostly liquid event. We are reliably informed that the foaming will this year take place 13 - 16 September (Septemberfest?) in the Mansion House, as opposed to the IFSC where it has been located in the past.

You know what to expect by now - beers, pretzels, what is, uh, best described as traditional German music, and doubtlessly craic-a-plenty. The entry is free but they suggest you book tables. All the necessary information is available on the website.




The marketing relies heavily on young women in dirndls, as might be expected. I am asking where the strapping lads in lederhosen are?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tall Ships 23rd - 26th August

Reports on the interwebs suggest that the Tall Ships have begun arriving but the official event doesn't begin until Thursday.


They started out in France at the beginning of July, made their way down the coast to Spain and Portugal and finish up here this week.  Half the crew of each ship is made up of volunteers aged between 15 and 25.  It's a great opportunity to learn how to sail while having brilliant fun.  The ships come from all over Europe.

It's a great time to be around town.  There's plenty to do and see for all the family.  The accompanying festival will bring some traffic re-routing, closures of Dublin Bike stands on the quays and bus diversions.  Nonetheless, they are encouraging everyone to come by public transport.  Bulmers is sponsoring a Live Music Dock throughout the four days.  Highlights (for me) include Duke Special, Cathy Davey, Ash and the Undertones.

The Jeanie Johnston will be open all weekend for tours as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Heritage Week 18th - 26th


So Heritage Week starts on the 18th.  It's a bit of a misnomer because it's actually 9 days of activities but I suppose we'll let them off.  There is quite literally too many events, even limiting ourselves to Dublin and county to mention them all.  However, the website is great and easy to use: you can search by a whole range of types of events to narrow it down.  One thing to remember, a lot of things are on in the day time and family friendly, so it's ideal if you need last minute activities before the kids go back to school.  There really is something for everyone here.  I've picked out a couple of notable things below.

I did a random Fingal search and found an interesting looking talk in Blanchardstown Library on 25th August (sadly, in the afternoon) on the Phoenix Park Assassinations And Trial Of Invincibles 1882 - 1883.

If you've any interest in Glasnevin cemetery, they'll be doing tours during Heritage week.  They're normally only a fiver but free next week and well worth doing.  I did one last year during Heritage week and it was fascinating.

The Royal Hospital in Kilmainham is doing a range of guided tours of the building inside and out every day during Heritage Week.  Even if IMMA's not your thing,just seeing inside this building is a treat on its own.

Dublin Castle is the venue for a talk entitled "A Very Dublin Death: The Plague In Ireland, 1348-1400" on 24th and that is on at 18:15.

Everything appears to be free, though some things will require booking.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dublin Mela

Bus advertising does work. Today I saw a poster in a 67 for Dublin Mela, a celebration of Indian culture in the style of Indian fairs. Organised by the non-profit Unitas, an organisation of the Indian diaspora living in Ireland, focusing on 'integration through sports, arts and culture', the Mela will take place from 15 to 19 August. The website promises films, sports, arts and food.

The main Mela day will be Saturday 18 August in Corkagh Park in Clondalkin, 12 - 6 pm, with free entry. Elsewhere, an art exhibition will be held in Trinity College's Buttery, 16-21 August, and a Bharatnatyam dance workshop at Chester Beatty Library on Sunday 19 August, 1 - 2 pm (free, but must be booked in advance through the Chester Beatty's website).

Down with Jazz 24/25/26 August

Down with Jazz is a free, ticketed 3 day festival in Meeting House Square taking place over the last weekend in August.  Here's the promo video.


I didn't know previously that there had been anti-jazz riots in Leitrim in 1934!  At any rate, there won't be riots in Dublin but there will be 3 great days of jazz performances - see the list here.

It's all free but you need to book tickets: Log onto www.templebar.ie/events to do that.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The High Tea Hop

Elena from Temple Bar Cultural Trust got in touch with me recently about an event they're holding on Friday 10th August. The High Tea Hop is a day of events entirely dedicated to the members of the Active Retired. Here's TBCT's description of the event:

"If you are a member of the active retired but not quite the retiring type, then we have a full day of arts and cultural events designed to showcase all that Temple Bar has to offer a mature, discerning audience. The programme will have a little something for everyone, from exhibition visits and storytelling to film screenings and walking tours.

The day will close with a Hop on Meeting House Square featuring all the hits of the showband era, so just put on your thinking cap and bring your dancing shoes. Feel young at Art!

For more details or to book a place in a workshop, tour or talk, contact Temple Bar Cultural Trust on 01 677 2255 or info@templebar.ie

Tickets for High Tea Hop in Meeting House Square are also available on www.entertainment.ie/mhs"


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

International Argentine Tango Festival

The 10th International Argentine Tango Festival will be taking place in Dublin 23-26 August, with a series of pre-festival events 17-19 August. The organisers call this a celebration of Argentine culture so we can expect plenty of wonderful music, food and words.

The pre-festival events, some free of charge, include a friendly Spanish class held in a pub, talk on the writer Jose Luis Borges and a workshop in tango for complete beginners.

The main events are held in various venues around the south city centre and include workshops and a concert.

All the details, including venues, prices and booking, can be found on the festival website.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Photos of Dublin Zombie Walk 2012

Once again our city has been struck by the undead. (And I have to say, fellow Dubliners, some of you look very good as zombies.)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: 'The Lark' in Smock Alley Theatre

A new production of Jean Anouilh's The Lark is currently running in Smock Alley Theatre. The Lark is set during trial of Joan of Arc, and tells a dramatised account of her life. It's a good play in its own right but the greatest strength of this production by theatre company Fast Intent is the choice of venue, The Boys' School in Smock Alley. The high ceiling, faded brick backdrop and hard wooden benches are well suited to the atmosphere of the play. Few productions are so fortunate (or so foresightful) as to have such a simple and effective ready-made setting.

Despite the somewhat grim subject of the play this is an entertaining and amusing production. Anouilh resists the temptation to reduce the antagonists to nothing more than caricatures of stupidity or evil. Although at times the clerics' remarks are used for comic effect, Joan's questioners also have the chance to present compelling arguments against her and to display a possible desire for mercy. Fast Intent hint at the relevance of the play's themes to modern Ireland, and while I don't disagree, I also enjoyed it at the simpler level of appreciating the Hundred Years War. Watching an English-language version of a French play about the war that defined both of those archetypal nation-states is a pleasure.

Rating: 4/5

The Lark continues in Smock Alley Theatre until Saturday 11th August 2012. The performance starts at 8 pm and runs for approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes including a 15 minute interval. Tickets cost €15 / €12.50. There are matinee performances at 3 pm on Saturday 4th and Saturday 11th August.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

GAZE

The Dublin International LGBT film festival takes places from Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th August.  GAZE is now in its 20th year and has an exciting program planned.  You can see the full line-up here but I've picked out a couple below that look interesting (at least to me!).  They will also be hosting a series of workshops over the weekend including an interesting panel discussion on what is a gay film.  Needless to say, there'll be parties and inaugural film awards too.  The Lighthouse in Smithfield is the venue for all the films, which is great...sometimes film festivals are all over the shop and it can be confusing so having just one place is perfect.

Leave it on the floor is described as a mash-up of Glee, Dreamgirls and the Step up films.  I am so there.

Circumstance - an Iranian story of two girls falling in love, the film has since been banned in Iran and shockingly, the director has been exiled.  This movie is the opening gala night on Thursday.

Weekend - two men in London and spend the weekend together, one is out and the other is not quite.  This made quite a splash last year and GAZE is screening it for free at 14:30 on Saturday in the Lighthouse.

ETA: I've just discovered my cousin Mark O'Carroll's film Joshua Tree 1951 is showing tomorrow, 4th August at 18:30 as well!  Here's a video promo of it.


Monday, July 30, 2012

The Tempest - Free Shakespeare in the Iveagh Gardens

Following on from an enjoyable production last summer of Romeo & Juliet, this year Fortune's Fool Productions are presenting The Tempest as a free show in the Iveagh Gardens. The show starts at 7 pm on August 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th and at 3 pm on August 4th, 5th, 11th, and 12th.

Edit: Well, well, there sure have been a lot of pageviews for this brief post! I went along to the opening performance and found it enjoyable, although not as good as last year's show.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opera in the Open 2012

Opera in the Open is a series of five free lunchtime performances each Thursday in August. The first is Puccini's Madama Butterfly, on Thursday 2nd at 1 pm at the amphitheatre at Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8. Most of the other performances are at the same location, the exception being Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte on 23rd August, which will be performed in Grand Canal Square as part of the Dublin Tall Ships Races 2012 festival.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Overtime

Overtime tells the story of John, a stressed-out corporate employee with too much work and not enough time. Overwhelmed by the fear that his incompetence is about to be found out, John turns to his former boss, Frank, for advice. The play is structured around this dialogue, with flashback scenes interspersed to provide context and background.

Frank is a likeable man full of wit and wisdom. The actor (Gerard Byrne) has good material to work with and uses it well, aided by the richness of his voice. Stewart Roche, playing John, faces a far more difficult task: making the audience care about an antihero who is devious and selfish yet also rather dull. John bears a slight resemblance to Christian Bale's character in American Psycho but isn't half so fascinating or chilling - he's mostly banal rather than evil. Roche does his best with this but ultimately I just don't care what happens to John.

Although Overtime is slightly predictable and at times could benefit from a higher tempo, it's nonetheless an entertaining and insightful performance.

Rating: 3 / 5

Overtime runs until Saturday 28th July in the New Theatre. Tickets cost €15 / €12. The performance starts at 8 pm each day and runs for approximately 70 minutes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Madonna @ the Aviva

Like many people, I was at the Aviva stadium last night to see the long awaited arrival of Madonna in Ireland.  I've been a fan as long as I can remember, so even though I wasn't so in love with her more recent albums, I was always going to want to see her in concert.  Not being a sports fan, it was also my first time in the Aviva, more about that later.

First: the music.  She's still got a great voice and boy can she move.  Anyone, of any age, would be lucky to have a figure like hers and the ability to leap around like she did for 2 hours.  She nearly everything off her current album, which if not as well known, was certainly entertaining.  Luckily I had listened to it twice, so I did know most of the music.  However, I could have done with about 5 more hits from her 30 year career.  The biggies were there: Vogue (fab), Papa don't preach, a very stripped down mostly a capella version of Like a Virgin (I reckon half the audience didn't recognise it until the second verse), a brilliant Human Nature done with mirrors and Like a Prayer at the end with a full gospel choir- simply fabulous.  She also mashed up Express Yourself with Lady Gaga's Born this way, continuing her quest to prove they are the same song (I don't agree but Madonna obviously feels the need to remind everyone that she was doing it all, better than Gaga, before she was born) and they worked well together.  However, some tracks off her current album I could have done without entirely - a section where she pretended to shoot people, though well choreographed, was just a bit dull.  There was nothing from her late 90s - mid naughties period, which was a shame.   A bit of Ray of Light would have been cool.  She also played guitar on a couple of songs and it even looked like she was playing proper chords to 2 of them too.

The set was visually impressive, lots of moving pieces than rose and sank into the stage and large video screens at the back.  Her dancers and musicians were all top notch, particular mentions for the guys on the tightropes and the Basque musicians whose name I didn't catch.

Naturally enough, I have found something to be negative about.  All the press and ticket information said the show started at 19:30.  I bust a gut to get over there by then and made it.  A DJ (Alesso) came on at 20:00 for a half an hour and then Madonna came on at 21:10.  While I was happy to sit and chat to my friends, I wished Ticketmaster had told me she wouldn't be on until later and I wouldn't have had a mad dash across the city.  She played for 2 hours: solid enough without going overboard time-wise.

And so to my thoughts on the Aviva.  It's very impressive.  There's a great view of the city out of it, and we particularly enjoyed the roof last night.  While the millionaire superstar got soaked (and frequently complained about it), we were dry.  It's well-designed and speed at which it could empty was great.  Far less great was trying to get back to Lansdowne Road DART station and onto said train afterwards.  We were shepherded out a particular way, and had to walk back around to the station then queue to get on to the platform, where a very long Howth-bound DART waited.  We wanted Malahide so we had about 15 mins before the other filled up and left.  Thankfully we got seats as the train we did get (both were specially put on, thanks Iarnrod Éireann) was the slowest train in history.  It was about 50 mins back to Malahide and all told I was 2 hours coming home from the end of the concert to actually standing in my apartment.  Next time I go to the Aviva, I'm going to drive, park on the canal and walk up.

In summary, it was completely worth the €60 I spent on the ticket, more enjoyable than say the Lady Gaga concert.   I'm not sure I'll be in a rush to see Madonna again (at least not without a time machine to take me back to 1990) but a great time was had by all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Malahide Has It 28/29th July

Hot on the heels of the inaugural (and very successful) Flavours of Fingal festival last weekend comes another Fingal festival.   Malahide Has It is in its third year.  The schedule is immense and ambitious, so I've just picked out a few things that sound fun from both days.  The fun fair runs from 11am to 10pm all weekend.  They're also holding a photo competition, details here.

Thursday
Table Quiz in the Grand Hotel

Saturday
Chess Challenge & Sumo wrestling challenge both at the same time 12-16:00 on New St/The Village Green
Gibneys BBQ - all day

Sunday
Free tai chi class from 10-11am on the green
Tug o war 15:00 also on the green

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Tall Ships Races 2012 - Dublin

The Tall Ships Races 2012 is a four-day festival running from August 23rd to 26th. The fifty ships are due to arrive in Dublin on 23rd August and are expected to be open to the public from 14:00 on that day. The festival also includes live music, street theatre, markets, fun fairs, water sport activities and family events. Personally I'll be looking forward to seeing street performers Lords of Strut back in Dublin for the festival.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Absolut Fringe Festival - programme out

The programme for this year's Fringe Festival is here. My personal highlights: the Rubberbandits, Lords of Strut and ThisIsPopBaby's 'Elevator'.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Street Performance World Championship

This year's Street Performance World Championship starts tomorrow:
"The Laya Healthcare Street Performance World Championship will bring 16 of the most talented street artists in the world to Ireland this July to compete for the title of the Laya Healthcare Street Performance World Champion. With an attendance of over 240,000 in 2011, Ireland's second largest free family festival comes to Dublin's Merrion Square on July 19th – 22nd."

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Review: Sylvia's Quest

If you're in Temple Bar this July or August you might spot a pretty girl dressed in yellow leading around a group of people wearing headphones. She's Sylvia Sylvana, the protagonist of Sylvia's Quest, a new show by Wonderland Productions. The play is set in contemporary Dublin and uses the city as its stage. As Sylvia (played by Elitsa Dimova) guides her new friends through the streets she tells them about herself and the country she came from - the experience of the 'new Irish' is one of the production's main themes. Sylvia is a Bulgarian archaeologist who works in Dublin as a cleaner, and the concept of the show is that the headphones let the audience listen to sounds and voices which normally only Sylvia can hear. As an archaeologist far from her native land many of Sylvia's thoughts are of Thrace, the civilisation that existed in antiquity in what's now Bulgaria. (You know the one - it's where Spartacus came from.) The headphones also let us listen in on the phonecalls which provide much of the play's dialogue.

Immersive theatre - plays involving audience interaction with the characters, props or location - has been a popular part of recent theatre festivals. It's often quite provocative. Sylvia's Quest uses a gentler, less confrontational form of immersion. I loved it, and I think other immersive theatre productions should learn from it. There's a lot I could say about that - so I'll leave that for another article.

By its nature immersive theatre is more subjective than traditional theatre, and that is particularly true in this case given that Sylvia's Quest uses the streets of Temple Bar as its set. The weather, curious glances (or comments) from perplexed onlookers, and Sylvia's conversations with the audience members guarantee that no two performances will be identical. This variation means I can't be certain you'll have as much fun as I did, but despite that I'm going to give Sylvia's Quest a five out of five.

Its innovative use of technology and contribution to immersive theatre are commendable - but most of all Sylvia's Quest is lots of fun.
Rating: *****

Running time 85 minutes. As this is an outdoor performance it's recommended that you dress appropriately for the Irish weather. Tickets cost €16/€14 and are available from www.entertainment.ie. In September Sylvia's Quest will run in the Phibsborough Community Arts Festival (Phizzfest), the Newbridge 200 Festival and in Mermaid Arts Centre. Due to its innovative use of radio technology in theatre Sylvia's Quest is part of Dublin City of Science 2012. The show has received support from the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.

Claire Bradley will be interviewing Alice Coghlan from Wonderland Productions on Artbeat on Dublin City FM on Wednesday 18th July at 8 pm.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: 'Spurt'

"Finn’s dad has just died. But so has his fish," says the blurb for Spurt, and I admit I went into the show expecting a mildly poignant coming-of-age story but not much more. A nice solid three stars production.

Not a bit of it. This is a play about death, yet it's genuinely funny. It's novel and has touches of audience interaction, yet it's not one of those godawful egotistical plays based on the premise that the audience will just love watching actors clumsily batter down the fourth wall so they can tell us about their lives. At 60 minutes, Spurt is also the right length.

I don't want to say too much about the specifics of the play. The audience reaction to the method used by the actors to hit them emotionally is important.

Spurt isn't going to set the theatre world on fire but it's an enjoyable and astute performance.

Rating: ****

Spurt continues in the New Theatre until 14th July 2012 as part of the 10 Days in Dublin festival. Tickets cost €10.

Crisis Photography - Images from South Sudan in the Royal Irish Academy

On Wednesday 18th July Médecins Sans Frontières will present an exhibition of images taken recently in the refugee camps of South Sudan. The exhibition will be on in the RIA (Royal Irish Academy) on Dawson Street from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Entry is free of charge.

Image right: MSF clinic, South Sudan, 2012. © Shannon Jensen

Monday, July 9, 2012

Terra Madre - a tiny piece of Italy on the quays

I had the great pleasure of dining at Terra Madre on Batchelor's Walk on Saturday evening.  It's a tiny underground restaurant/cafe, so small there were only 7 or 8 tables.  They're open a while but I hadn't managed to get there yet.  Everyone dining there was either Italian or spoke it, and needless to say it was staffed by Italians.  The menu was brief - just 3 bruschetta starters and 4 mains, 2 of which included rabbit and hare!  Gastronomically, it was diverse: dishes from Tuscany and south of Rome featured, and there was wine from Sicily, which was divine and we totally failed to ask the name of.

Everything we ate and drank was excellent.  If I hadn't been in Rome in March, I'd say it was the best Italian meal I've eaten this year.  If there's one flaw, it's that it is so small, we felt we couldn't linger all evening.  Every table was full and the air was filled with Italian food and chat.

They don't seem to have a website and finding their phone number (01 8735300) was a challenge but they are totally worth the effort.  I will certainly be back.  Watch out, Ciao Bella Roma, there's a new contender for best Italian in Dublin.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

City Intersections #4

The next City Intersections is on Tuesday 10th July at 7 pm in U-Bar on High Street. City Intersections features three speakers discussing urban topics relating to Dublin. This month's panel are: Dublin City Council Beta Projects, artist and lecturer Anthony Haughey and Anne Bedos of bike shop / community group Rothar.ie.

I've enjoyed the City Intersection discussions I've been to - not only are the speakers good but the audience members tend to be pretty knowledgeable too. Lots of fun.

Graff House: Live Street Art Show

Alexa from White Lady Art has asked us to tell you about a free art event on Saturday 14th on behalf of charity. The event is called Graff House: Live Street Art Show.

Details from White Lady Art:
Where: The Chocolate Factory, 26 Kings Inn Street (just off Parnell St), Dublin 1.
When: Saturday 14th July, 6-10pm.
FREE!!!

White Lady Art, KIN, and Iljin Project presents, Graff House Live Street Art Show! An evening of live painting by some of Ireland's best street artists, at the Chocolate Factory which is just off Parnell Street.
BYOB!

Confirmed artists include:

Solus
FOX
VERZ
Killian Redmonk
KIN
Art by Eoin
Marca Mix
Kevin Bohan
Ellie Downey
Mick Minogue
Shem 1331
Holly Gardner

Each artist will be given a large 2 metre squared wooden board to paint between 6pm and 10pm right in front of you! As it's indoors there won't be any sprays, but artists will be using stencils and anything else they want to create an amazing piece in four hours.

The Chocolate Factory is a large renovated warehouse that is being used as a creative space. The ground floor will be transformed on the day into a live painting area, music stage, retail area and food stall. Don't forget you can bring your own booze!

We will be raising money for a Dublin kids charity.
Artists are bringing specially selected paintings and prints and stickers and stuff to sell at the stall, manned by our minions while they paint, and all that money will go straight to the artists who can donate what they can to the charity. You can donate directly on the day as well!

There will be live music too from the Baque Soul Band, DJ Pepe Paulo and MC Majic; food, you can bring your own booze, and bring your cameras to capture some of our artist's in action!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

'Fourteen 12' - part of PhotoIreland Festival 2012

'Fourteen 12' opens this evening at 7 pm in Little Green Street Gallery. It's part of PhotoIreland 2012 and features a diverse range of works from emerging photographers and recent graduates of NCAD's Photography and Digital Imaging part-time course. It runs until 11th July.

For the opening night there'll be some complimentary whiskey. As LGSG note on their Facebook page, "Whiskey and Photography how can one go wrong!!!?".

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tango vocalist Martín Alvarado in the NCH


Martin Alvarado will be performing in the National Concert Hall (NCH) on Friday 24th August as part of the 10th Internaional Tango Festival in Ireland. Alvarado is a guitarist and singer, so the performance also features dancers Hernan Catvin and Simona Zaino of Compadrito Tango. Tickets cost €15.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

'Flux', one of the plays in 10 Days in Dublin

The 10 Days in Dublin festival beings on Thursday 5th July and runs until 14th July. One of the many plays featuring in the festival is Flux, a one-woman play by Aoife Nic:
"The intimate setting in an upstairs Georgian room, invites the audience to share the fractured lives of singer Una, song writer Mary and manager Dara, as they take on the music world with their haunting sounds."

Last Train from Holyhead

Out of Time Theatre have a new production starting soon in the Teachers Club on Parnell Square. Last Train from Holyhead by Bernard Field stars Dave Duffy ("Fair City"), Stephen Gorman ("Leap Year") and Deirdre Jones ("Ripper Street"). Here's how the theatre company describes the play:
Two men discover more than they bargained for as they while away the night on a train to nowhere. With the help of drink, poker and a beguiling Gipsy, they explore the void within themselves through their experience of each other.

Drink, cards and prophecy, not to mention comedy and tragedy, pervade this intriguing piece of theatre which examines identity and how the seeds sown in the past have a habit of sprouting, whether we like it or not.


There have been several previous productions of the play. These seem to have received good reviews, so let's hope this latest production is equally successful. It's the theatre company's second production.

Last Train from Holyhead runs from July 16th to 28th at 8 pm each evening from Monday to Saturday. Tickets normally cost €15 (€12 concession), but only €10 for the previews on July 16th and 17th. There are also Saturday matinees costing €10.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Dublin Pride

So Dublin Pride has been on for the past week, and we've been very remiss to not mention it before now.  But do not fear, there's still a whole weekend to drape yourself in a rainbow flag and participate.  All the major gay venue are hosting a pile of events, so you could just show up at any one of them but here's a selection of interesting events over the weekend.

The flagship event is tomorrow.  The Pride parade is always worth watching, and taking part in it even more so.  Assembly starts at noon for at 14:00 beginning at the Garden of Remembrance.  Panti is the grand marshal.

Bressie is playing at The George tonight.
They're also doing their usual bingo with Shirley Temple Bar on Sunday.

Pussy Cat Club, also tonight, at the Button Factory.  Ireland's top female DJs will be there.  Dancing seems essential.

The official closing party is at Sauce in The Kitchen and Boy George is Djing.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Centre for Creative Practices Artists Survey 2012

Monika Sapielak of the Centre for Creative Practices has asked me to publicise their 2012 Artists Survey.  If you are an artist, or know some, please pass on this link and ask them to complete the survey.  They are especially interested to hear from any migrant or niche artists.

http://artisticsurvey.questionpro.com/

As a nice carrot, two artists who complete the survey will have the chance to exhibit their work for a week in the gallery (if their medium is visual) or perform twice at the gallery (if their field is music/film, etc).  Also, everyone who does the survey will get a free membership to the CfCP, which gives discounts for all their workshops.  So it's well worth your time filling it out!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

UCD Imagine Science Film Festival

The first UCD Imagine Science Film Festival runs from 5th to 14th July across several venues in Dublin including Lighthouse Cinema, the Sugar Club and Science Gallery. It's part of Dublin City of Science 2012 and aims to celebrate science through cinema, digital media and art. Films shown during the festival will include Fermat's Room, the Russian/Soviet 1972 classic Solaris (right), and short films for children (Science for Nanos).

You can also follow the festival on twitter (@UCDImagineSci / #UCDSci) and at facebook.com/UCDImagineScience.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Odeon: Null Points

Last night I went to the (relatively new) Odeon cinema at the Point with some companions to see the UK National Theatre production of Frankenstein directed by Danny Boyle and starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch.  Originally produced in the spring of 2011, it was so successful a production that it was filmed and hence we can all see it.  The filming doesn't take away from the play, and you still hear and see the audience.  The two lead actors alternated roles each night playing the creature and Frankenstein.  I'd never read Mary Shelley's book or seen other adaptation, so I was truly impressed by the horror of it all, especially when you know that an 18 year old woman thought of the idea, and was just 21 when it was published.  I've often heard comments like "Frankenstein is the original horror story" and presumed it was a bit of a cliché, but wow.  There were parts of the story I did not see coming.  For something written almost 200 years ago, it still has a lot of resonance today, especially as scientists get ever closer to Frankenstein's aims of creating life in a non-traditional way.  It was a very physical play - a lot of jumping around and running and violence.  The set was awesome.  (I know - I always go on about sets).  It had this circular turn-style thing which at first appeared to just go around but then later rose and suck into the ground for different scenes.  What looked like a track of real grass was on the stage for a portion of the play, and the stage also rained.  I love it when they make stages rain!  The ceiling was hung with hundreds of light bulbs which were used to great effect.  All the acting was superb and intense, the cast support cast was excellent and the two leads both really deserve the Laurence Oliver award they shared for the roles.  I'm considering whether I might like to see them in the reversed roles but it was a hard watch, and somewhat soured by the experience I shall now relate.

However, the Odeon deserves no points.  They are, if you will, the Norway of cinemas.  I booked the tickets in advance.  The showing was for 19:15, and we duly arrived about 19:00. We made our way through a monument to the Celtic Tiger, a giant empty shopping centre.  I got the tickets from the machine and we proceeded straight in.  Our tickets were checked and went into a small but shiny, clean and new cinema.  There was a whole 2 other people in the cinema with us and we started to chat as we waited for the lights to dim.  And we waited.  And waited.  Then one of the group said "hey Claire, these tickets say 8pm, not 7.15" so I got out my phone and checked my original booking confirmation, which did indeed say the earlier time.  Not being known for shyness, I went straight out to ask what the story was.  A lady with an English accent said oh yes the time had changed, she'd just found out herself, very sorry.  She didn't look terribly sorry.  I asked could an email not have been sent out but she just repeated "all I can I say is I'm very sorry" and that she would pass it on to the manager.  She acted like I was being difficult in complaining about this, when surely getting the time right is a fundamental requirement for a cinema.  So I went back in and informed everyone of this change...no one else knew.  Since we were already there, we stayed and waited but were seriously not impressed.  Surely the people checking tickets could have informed us?  About 19:40, the same woman came into the screening room accompanied by another woman.  In a loud voice she announced "Does everyone know the screening time has been changed from 7.15 to 8 o'clock?  Is everyone ok with that?"  Some people actually said they were, but we all said no.  Spectacular customer service training there.  The other lady came up to us and said they would give us a free ticket each as an apology and hoped that we would come back.  We might but I don't think it'll be soon.  How could we be sure this wouldn't happen again?  By the time it was all over, it was nearly 10:30, easily the longest I've been at the cinema since Schindler's List - an entirely different kind of horror.

A side point: if you are intending to park there - you can get your parking ticket validated in the cinema and you'll only have to pay €5 for up to four hours instead of €2.70 an hour.  My companions were 3 minutes over the 4 hours, having eaten in the Gibson beforehand, so they paid €7.70 for the inconvenience.