Tuesday, July 31, 2012


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.

Table Quiz in the Grand Hotel

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

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.

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.

Confirmed artists include:

Killian Redmonk
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.