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 DraĆ­ocht 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 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.