Tuesday, April 24, 2012


This one woman play starts tonight (24th April) in The Factory in Barrow Street and continues on 25th and 26th April.

Here's how the team behind the play describe it:
In a quiet room overlooking still city waters, three voices tell the story of their journey through friendship, fame and music.

The intimate setting, with a view of Grand Canal Quay, invites the audience into the lives of singer Una, song writer Mary and their manager Dara. The play captures the innocence, greed and manipulation of their time together, using mirrors to portray their fractured essence.

Doors open at 8:30 pm and the play starts at 9 pm. Tickets cost €10 and booking in advance is advised. The box office can be contacted at 01 430 6964.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dial M for Murder

Rush Dramatic Society's new production of Dial M for Murder, the play on which the classic Hitchcock film is based, opens on 25th April at the Millbank and runs every Wednesday to Saturday until 19th May.

And now for my exciting news:
I will be interviewing the play's director, Annmarie Wolohan, on Wednesday.  I'll be wearing my new co-presenter hat on Artbeat on Dublin City FM.  The show airs on Wednesday night at 20:00 on 103.2fm.  You can also live stream the station from the website.  Provided I don't break everything or go mad, I'll be on most weeks.  Wish me luck!

My Cousin Rachel @ The Gate

Since we don't normally see The Gate productions, the lovely MK was there on the opening night last Tuesday and kindly wrote this guest review for us.

The Gate's production of Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel delivers on the promises of its poster.  The Gothic suspense is filled with sexual tension and ambiguity.  The audience never know who is telling the truth in this tale of either madness or manipulation.  Most people, like myself, are probably unfamiliar with the original story and I think those people will get the most out of the production.  Not knowing the outcome is always better in a suspense tale of course. The premise is good and the twists and turns keep the audience guessing until after the end.

The performances are uniformly impressive but Hannah Yelland in the title role is exceptional, charming, taunting and mysterious.  She is also convincingly Italian in her mannerism and attitude. Whether it is the original du Maurier or Joseph O'Connor's adaptation that deserve the credit the Italian character's dialogue is entirely credible with many phrases being direct translations from Italian.  I also particularly enjoyed Bosco Hogan and John Cronin as the faithful servants.  They deliver much of the hilarity in a surprisingly funny production, humour not something I associate readily with du Maurier.  Michael Legge plays the straight role of the intense and confused young man with aplomb.  And it is really this central pairing of Legge and Yelland that make the whole premise work.

My main quibble with the production is the set.  The heavy interior set reminded me of Jane Eyre but the use of this heavy interior as an exterior and a beach at that just didn't work.  I was unable to suspend my disbelief and the addition of piles of sand to the living room set only served to make me feel as if the servants I enjoyed so much were slacking in their duties.  This niggle aside the production is very entertaining.  There are lots of ooh and aah moments and the woman sitting next to me even asked if I thought we should be taking notes on how to get a man to eat out of your hand.  Whether you need to take notes or not, it's an enjoyable evening.

My Cousin Rachel runs at the Gate until 19th May.  Tickets are €15 - €32.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dublin Bay Prawns

 I'm willing to bet that a great deal of people are not aware that Dublin has a prawn festival.

Well, we do.  And it's on next weekend in Howth, our very own district 9.

Friday the 27th has a couple of prawn-related events but the main action is on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th when Howth village will become a hive of activity with tasting stalls, cooking demos, walks up Howth Head (to see prawns in their natural habitat?!) live music, and family entertainment.  There'll be fireworks on Saturday night too.

The full program is here and provided the weather behaves, I think this should be a really fun weekend.  Some events require prior registration but all the details are on their website.  I hope there's scampi...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Molly Crabapple on Art and Enterpreneurship

Molly Crabapple, artist, author and the founder of Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School, which has also a successful Dublin branch, will be speaking at the Centre for Creative Practices on Sunday 29 April at 3 pm. The topic of her talk will be art and enterpreneurship, which should be very interesting.

Tickets to the talk will be €12 standard, €10 for students and Seniors. They are buyable on Dr Sketchy's website, which has plenty more information about the event as well.

While you're on the website, do have a look at the Cabaret-themed life drawing classes as well, for a regular social event with a difference. I am reliably informed that the classes are the most fun you can have with a pen in your hand.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dubliners - new audiotour

Farrington's in Temple Bar is one of the many pubs following the recent trend in Dublin of serving craft beer and good food. I spent a pleasant evening there recently drinking porter and reading this year's choice for One City, One Book, James Joyce's Dubliners. Farrington's is named after the protagonist of one of the short stories in the book, Counterparts, which features a pub on the corner of Eustace St, the location of the modern day Farrington's pub. As a matter of authenticity I should have ordered a "g.p." and a caraway seed, but I settled for the more modern Dark Arts Porter.

But I digress. What I'd really like to tell you about is the new Dubliners audiotour by Wonderland Productions. It's a self guided audiotour; the participant dons a pair of headphone with an attached iPod, and is guided around with the help of an accompanying map. The tour starts at the Dublin Writers Museum on Parnell Square (beside the excellent Chapter One restaurant) and meanders through the city centre to locations featured in Dubliners.

There are two main types of material on the audiotour. For the most part it consists of abridged audio versions of the stories from the book. The voice-acting is good and the concept of walking around the locations while hearing the corresponding stories works well, although unavoidably the length of each story and the time it takes to walk the real-world setting do not always match. Just keep walking and don't let it bother you, I'd suggest.

The headphones do a good job of insulating the listener from the noise of the 21st century city, creating a strange sensation of not really being in the modern-day city. As someone living in Dublin I found the tour interesting as an insight into the city a century ago; to see which areas are still run down (many of them) and which have changed (a few, not always for the better). Helpfully, as well as stories and directions the audio also provides 'extras' - comments on Dublin and Joyce.

Henrietta Street, leading up to King's Inns on Constitution Hill, and featured in the story A Little Cloud, is one of the most changed. A once well to do area, it's now bleak and decrepit. From there you'll be lead down Capel Street, and along the Quays towards James Joyce Bridge and the 'House of The Dead', the location for the final story of Dubliners, The Dead. Wonderland have temporarily opened the building up to the public so if you're a fan of Joyce get down there while you can and enjoy being in the location of one of Joyce's main stories.

The supper-room upstairs in the House of The Dead

I won't list all of the locations here - you get the idea. Farrington's is of course included, and if you're so inclined I'd suggest having a glass or two and enjoying the place. The map of the tour also suggests afternoon tea in the Gresham, the final location of the tour, and while that's not my own 'cup of tea' it might well be a good way to end the tour.

I have to admit to having temporarily lost momentum when I first started reading Dubliners, but the audiotour - particularly the superb Counterparts - got me interested once again. The audioguide is a quality piece of work, and a real addition to the city's Joycean scene. Both as a way to see Dublin with fresh eyes and as an enjoyable recounting of the stories from Dubliners, this is a winner.

There are two versions of the tour, one taking about 3-4 hours and the other taking about 7 hours. The shorter version costs €12 while the full day epic costs €19. Overall I'd consider those prices reasonable given the quality of the material and the time the tour will take. Full details are available on Wonderland Theatre's website.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

'Entrance, entrance'

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios have a new exhibition, 'Entrance, entrance', on the theme of the digital image. I particularly liked Alan Butler's Here They Come, featuring a wooden-construct of the CGI dog from Dire Straits' Money For Nothing, draped with posters from the Occupy Dame Street camp.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Charity Music night

Just a quick note to highlight a music night in the Strand pub in Rush tonight in aid of the very worthy Peter McVerry Trust.  It kicks off at 8pm.  I've heard some of the people performing sing before, so am quite confident a good night will be had by all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Alice in Funderland

In the few short days since it opened, much has been made of the fact that The Abbey has put on its first musical in 20 years.  And it is worth the fuss, so why do I find it so hard to put my thoughts into words?

Developed over 4 years and work-shopped last year at the Project Arts Centre, Alice in Funderland is a modern musical retelling of Alice in Wonderland, done with an electropop soundtrack.  The show was produced in conjunction with This is Pop Baby.

Alice is a young Cork girl, depressed and trying to deal with her sister's upcoming wedding.  She finds herself alone and lost in Dublin on the hen night and spends the rest of her time trying to track down Warren, a guy she randomly snogs in a club.  Sarah Greene's performance as Alice underpins the show, not just because she plays the titular character: she is rarely off the stage - it is a role that must give credit to her stamina, vocal and acting skills.  She is the only actor to have a solitary role in this 15 strong ensemble cast.  Her single costume change even happens on stage.  The Queen of Hearts becomes the Queen of Hartstown, and is played by Tony Flynn in the grandest tradition of cross-gender performance.  I spent most of the play waiting to see his red dress costume and was not disappointed with Naomi Wilkinson's design.  The set was minimalist, as befits a dreamlike scene changing play with dance numbers, and had clever use of light. 

Paul Reid & Sarah Greene in character.  Courtesy of The Abbey.
The standout performances for me came from Paul Reid as "The Gay" (no really, that's the character's name), reminding me of Wayne Jordan, the play's director, in his college days, and from Abbey veteran Mark O'Regan in numerous guises.  My favourite scene was the "The Afternoon Tea Party Show" take-off of many mediocre RTÉ daytime programs and I especially liked the little touches of Irish thrown in.  Many of the songs are catchy and I was humming airs, if not singing lyrics, even today.  However, I did feel the whole start of the show could be sharper, the opening songs should pack more of a punch and at least 2 numbers were extraneous to the plot.  The show runs for (quick maths) something like 2 hours 40 mins and feels a little too long.

Yeats and Gregory have left the building, but this is no bad thing.  Make your own mind up though because everyone is sure to be talking about this for the next month, and probably long after it closes.

Alice in Funderland runs until Saturday, 12th May and tickets can be booked on the website, where you can also find details of related events.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Franco-Irish Literary Festival 2012

An early headsup for both the established fans of the lovely event that is the annual Franco-Irish Literary Festival, and for those who might consider attending for the first time. 13 years old this year, the festival will, as usual, take place in the Dublin Castle from Friday 20 April to Sunday 22 April. The programme can be found here. All events are open to the public and the admission to everything is free.

Do please note that even if you don't speak a word of French - you can still attend, as the events are simultaneously interpreted, which also means you can bring over that elderly French relative or family friend who does not have English. The heavyweight list of writers attending includes the Nobelist Seamus Heaney.

Delightfully, the theme this year is 'Pleasure - Plaisir'.

I am also very amused to note that a large bookcrossing event of 100 'released' books in French and English is taking place during the festival, so keep an eye out!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter Rising Culture

So this weekend is Easter and, even though it did not historically take place on this weekend, we commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising (huh, a bit like the event Easter itself celebrates...)  If you were of a mind to do some culture related event this weekend, here's some ideas for a Rising themed plan.

Take a tour of the major Rising sites:

The GPO - with small but perfect museum

Kilmainham Gaol - the site of the main leader's imprisonment and execution

Arbour Hill - most of the leaders' burial place

The Four Courts /North King St - a major combat zone

Jacob's Biscuit Factory - Bishops St - there's not much of the original factory but it feels fitting that our National Archives stand on the site today.  Though they won't be open over the weekend, they do have an excellent micro site on the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which the Rising precipitated. 

Boland's Mill - take a look around this Celtic Tiger area of the city - you can't get into the mill itself but it's nice to see how far we've come

Lunch outside (ambitious, I know) in St Stephen's Green, where Countess Markiewicz, among others, was stationed.

16 Moore St, to where the rebels retreated after they abandonned the GPO and today the subject of a campaign to keep the building from being demolished.

Of course, there will be a military parade on Easter Sunday accompanied by the traditional reading of the Proclamation outside the GPO.  This is usually televised as well.

If you don't want to be in the city, Glasnevin Cemetary has an array of Easter Rising related events, including their popular "Rebels & Revolutionaries" walking tour.

Hopefully, there's something to suit everyone this weekend.  If not, you could just stay home and eat a pile of chocolate.

Avenue Q

I was at Avenue Q in the Grand Canal Theatre* last night.  It's quite the experience and I'm not 100% how I felt about it yet.

The premise owes a lot to Sesame St and the Muppets - it's about a bunch of people and puppets, some of whom are monsters live on Avenue Q in New York.  The show deals with a number of "becoming an adult" issues like leaving college, getting a job, sexuality, relationships and wondering what you're going to do with your life.  Unlike Sesame St or the Muppets, you see the puppeteers on stage as they do voices and movement but the idea is that you look at the puppets.  I never quite got passed this and spent at least half the time looking at the humans as well. 

Let me be quite clear: this is not for kids.  Song titles like "The Internet is for porn" and "Everyone's a little bit racist" will give you an idea.  But it is very funny.  Very funny.  The target audience is 20-40 years old and the audience last night certainly reflected that.  Parts of the show are localised for whatever city they're in (like the Reduced Shakespeare Co. does) so there was a mention of Ballymun at one point but animated parts remained localised for Britain, which irritated members of my party.  It runs for 2 hours 15 minutes with an interval.

I'm still singing some of the songs but I'm not convinced I'd ever see it again, which to me is the litmus test of a truly amazing musical.

Its (ridiculously) short run ends on Saturday but I believe tickets are still available for the last few shows.

*I'm not over the horrible name change yet, alright?!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dublin: One City, One Book

This year's choice for One City, One Book is James Joyce's Dubliners. The idea of One City, One Book is for the people of Dublin to share the experience of reading the same book. It runs each April, and Dubliners is a fine choice given that this year is an important one for Joyce's works due to copyright expirations.

So far I've read only part of Dubliners. It's not the dense, difficult read I'd feared it might be; Ulysses has given Joyce a reputation for being hard to read, but as a collection of short stories Dubliners is quite a light read.

There'll be various events on over the month. The first one I've been to is a new self-guided audio tour by Wonderland Productions, taking the listener on a walk through Dublin with a series of well-produced audio-plays combined with commentary on the Dublin of Joyce's day. I'll be writing more about this later - it's a permanent production and will continue on long after this year's One City, One Book.

The Screen Cinema: a Dublin institution

I've been meaning for some time to post about the Screen Cinema at the meeting point of D'Olier St, Poolbeg St and Townsend St. And now seems like a good time, since they're showing a cool movie next week.  They have 3 screens and show a selection of new releases (mostly on the indie/cult and foreign film side of things) and a lot of older movies as part of their film club.  This club has meant people have enjoyed classics like The Goonies, Die Hard, Casablanca and many more on the big screen again.  Club membership is open to anyone over 18 and is included in your ticket price.  This is because the older movies have not necessarily been classified or re-classifed by IFCO.  The Screen is one of the oldest cinemas in Dublin, open in some form or other since 1972, though it shouldn't be confused with the cinema of the same name that was on Eden Quay and destroyed during the Rising, where the Laughter Lounge now is, and is nowadays owned by the same company who run the Savoy on O'Connell St.  The statue above, affectionately known as Mr Screen, was created by Vincent Browne, who also sculpted the palm tree seat in Temple Bar.