Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Light Up for Simon this Christmas

The Simon Community has come up with a novel fundraiser this Christmas.  Tomorrow evening at 6pm, they're asking people to come down to the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre wearing (no doubt appalling) Christmas jumpers.  Pauline McLynn, Roisin Ingle & Louis Copeland will be lighting their own jumpers as part of a larger light spectacle, which will illuminate the front of the building for the next few days.  If you're in the area, go down and support this great charity.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dublin Book Festival

Dave and I will be featuring some events during the festival but I wanted to preview the upcoming Dublin Book Festival 14-17th November because I hear events are booking up fast.

The festival will be based around Smock Alley Theatre and Temple Bar this year, with events in obvious venues like libraries and bookshops further afield.

The main events, as always, are authors in conversation, readings and panel discussions.  This year, there's also a book club to participate in.  New and budding authors are covered with a range of events to help them get started, meet agents, talk to publishers, etc.

The full programme is available here.

Halloween at Filmbase

Wednesday 30th & Thursday 31st October 2013
In a special event for Halloween, Filmbase in Temple Bar will host two terrifying nights of blood-curdling shorts and a frightening feature. Tonight’s shorts will be followed by an audience Q&A with all of the directors and both nights will feature fancy dress.

19:00 Wednesday 30th October

Wednesday’s line-up features an array of spine-shuddering short films, an audience Q&A with all of the Directors and an Audio Visual Horror Set.
The short film line-up includes:
-          The Ten Steps
-          Zombie Bashers
-          Braineater
-          The Faeries of Blackheath Woods
The Q&A will feature the film’s directors Brendan Muldowney, Conor McMahon & Ciaran Foy.
Audio Visual Horror Set:
Stefano Galvino, the Film Ireland Editor, will haunt your eyes and ears with an exclusive mix of soundtracks, dialogue, horror, spoken word, atmospherics alongside diabolical visuals from all your favourite nightmares to send you home.

Halloween Night’s Freaky Feature Frenzy!
19:00 Thursday 31th October
Citadel (84mins | Cert 16 | 2012)
Tommy Cowley is a young father inflicted with chronic agoraphobia since his wife was brutally attacked by a gang of a twisted feral children. Trapped in the dilapidated suburbia of Edenstown, he must finally face the demons of his past and enter the one place that he fears the most – the abandoned tower block known as the Citadel.

There's also prizes for the best costumes.

Tickets only €3 for one night or €5 for both nights.
Tickets available on the door, or book your place by calling 01 679 6716 and dialling 1 for reception.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pearse Museum

To go along with my visit to Kilmainham Gaol last week, I also trekked to the wilds of Rathfarnham to visit the Pearse Museum.  It's also run by the OPW and is completely free to visit.  It's usually open on Culture Night, if you are out that way.  Important note: it is randomly closed on Tuesdays.

On the day we visited, the weather was not behaving, so having parked on the Grange Road, we had a short, wet walk through St Enda's Park to get to the house.  I imagine it is beautiful to walk through when not raining.  On this particular day, we had the park and house to ourselves.

Íosagáin by Lady Glenavy
The house is of Georgian construction, then known as the Hermitage, and Padraig Pearse, together with his brother Willie, took over the lease in 1910, housing their school for boys here.  It was too wet to be taking photos outside but look here at the Wikipedia link for a good outside shot.  The tour starts with a 20 minute video on the history of St Enda's and the Pearse family.  I would have liked a little more about the history of the house before the Pearse involvement.  Apparently Robert Emmet (failed rebel and also an inmate of Kilmainham Gaol) courted Sarah Curran here.  Pearse was an admirer of Emmet (shocker!) and this played some part in his decision to locate the school here.

 The house has a lovely Arts and Crafts feel.  It's full of paintings and sculptures, by both Willie Pearse and others.  The rooms are still laid out as classrooms and studies.  Of particular note is the large room used to put on plays, with small chapel to the side.  You can view the house self-guided or with a tour guide.  We opted for the former, and there's plenty of information panels on pupils and teachers of note to help you along the way.

After the Rising, the school continued to operate under the guidance of the Pearses' mother and sister, both called Margaret until 1935.  They were also active politically, both women serving as TDs and later as Senators.

There has been some modernisation of the house - adding an additional staircase and some office space on the top floor, but it has been done quite sympathetically.  The house was bequeathed by Senator Margaret Pearse to the State in 1968. 

Kilmainham Gaol

A long long time ago, I was grumpy about not being able to get into Kilmainham Gaol on Culture Night.  I resolved to rectify the matter as soon as possible.  This turned out to be last Friday, 2 years later!

It was a rainy miserable day in Dublin, so it seemed natural to do touristy things.  Kilmainham Gaol's website isn't the best, being part of OPW's template site for every place they look after.  It gives the main information but nothing about parking.  An email request for information about parking was not answered.  That's the bad.  Everything else is good.  It's well worth seeing.  We arrived and found on street metered parking.  This is convenient when it's raining.  There's not a lot of it though.

Entry cost a tiny €6 for adults with reductions for senior citizens, students and kids.  My last visit to the Gaol had been as a 9 year old on a school trip, so it's safe to say lots of it went over my head then.  Access is granted only by guided tour, though you can happily wander around the two storey museum solo.  Make sure to see it - full of memorabilia, items made in the prison, posters and a lot of good information on how the prison developed (new panopticon model based on Pentonville in London, etc).

The tour lasts an hour.  Our tour guide was excellent explaining the history of the prison, the stories about famous prisoners.  It's cold and draughty inside, so make sure to dress warmly.  The youngest prisoner to grace Kilmainham was just 5 years old!  Naturally the Rising came up and we saw the stonebreakers yard where the leaders were executed.  Having been to Alcatraz in San Francisco, I was glad to discover there were no creepy wax models of prisoners!

Corridor where the leaders of the Easter Rising were held.

In the main hall, you can walk into cells, which are bare whitewashed rooms and close the door, to get a small sense of what it must have been like in there.  And then you can regain your freedom immediately.  They currently have an installation of bonnets on the floor.  They are modern reproductions of bonnets made for and by women being transported to Australia.  Extremely poignant.
The thing that surprised me most was how popular a tourist attraction the prison is.  I expected to be on a group tour.  I didn't think there would be about 50 people on it, with another similar sized tour just ahead of us.  Almost all were tourists in both groups.  And this on a wet day in mid-October.  I guess people really don't come here for the weather!

Dinner De Los Muertos

If you're looking for something different to do this Halloween, step this way.

Gruel Guerilla and Hunt & Gather are taking over the Back Loft on 1st November for Dinner de Los Muertos.

For the sum of €40 a head, guests will partake of a meal including : savoury inspirations from New Orleans and Deep South dishes as well as sweet inspirations from Mexico. New Orleans inspired canapés; Irish wild bird gumbo; Creole dish of duck, with mango marmalade; Pan de muertos (Mexican sweet dead bread); Home made sugar skulls.
If that wasn't enough to pique your interest, there'll be live music from Rufus Coates and tarot readings.  Guests are encouraged to dress as the living dead, of course.

Tickets can be booked by emailing the organisers at

Help the Halloween party!

ETA: There's only a few tickets left so get in quick if you fancy it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Temple Bar TradFest 2014

Next year's Temple Bar TradFest runs from 22nd to 26th January 2014 - and even though I've not previously been much of a trad fan I'm very much looking forward to it. TradFest ran a preview event this week and wow was it good. Eleanor McEvoy, Altan and (part of) Stockton's Wing performed: they were all excellent. I'm a convert.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review - The Bruising of Clouds: A Dublin Love Story

The Bruising of Clouds: A Dublin Love Story in the Civic Theatre is presented by Fishamble as part of Dublin Theatre Festival on Tour. It's a romance and a comedy but definitely not what I'd expect from a "RomCom". The play's greatest strength is the plausibility of the characters, particularly Kelly (Seána Kerslake). The Bruising of Clouds is, as the name suggests, very much a Dublin story - not only are the colloquialisms spot on but (wonderfully!) the script is willing to refer to real-world businesses and brands. There's none of that idiotic "I'll have a beer" nonsense - no, the man will have a Budweiser.

Funny and well-paced. Recommended.

Contains strong language and scenes of an adult nature. Suitable for ages 16+. The play continues in the Civic Theatre up to and including Saturday 12th October 2013, running at 8 pm each evening. Duration is 85 minutes with no interval. Tickets cost €18 / €14. There is a post-show discussion on 10th October 2013.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hunt & Gather - Nuit Blanche

Hunt & Gather is a recently created events company run by a pair of creatives with the aim of "providing new sensory experiences questioning the traditional gallery/performance and dining space for Dubliners and visitors alike". They're holding their next event on Saturday 5th October:

"Hunt & Gather presents: 
Nuit Blanche: NEON

Due to the overwhelming response from our first 'Nuit Blanche: Night time gathering' we are very excited to host our second gathering on the evening of October the 5th where we will be transforming Moxie Studios into a multi-sensory playground.

From 11pm until the early pre-dawn hours we are encouraging those adventurous souls to join us for a most curious evening of night time exploration, contemporary art, music, design, fashion, live art, live performance, food and frolics.

In conjunction on the evening we will be hosting the “The Great Exchange” indoor market, this market will be showcasing the works and wares of some of Ireland most inspiring stylists, fashion designers, graphic designers, artists and small business’s. Not only will you be able to soak up an evening of art and culture but you might take something home with you too.

The concept for the evening is “Neon” so expect UV light life drawing from the infamous Dr Sketchy's anti art school and live performance, imaginative light installation pieces and phantom perfromance. We are also delighted to confirm a full live performance from Mr Whippy Sound system.

This is a social experience for the urban explorers, cultural advocates and art lovers alike. We do hope you can join us.
The evening is a BYOB event, there is no entrance fee we kindly ask for a donation of 2e on the evening as a contribution towards the performers.

In addition to the evening we are encouraging attendees to come in fancy dress the concept is neon. We are drawing our inspiration from the bright lights in Tokyo."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Upcoming play - 'Beyond Therapy'

Newish theatre company Some Yank's Theatre Company have an upcoming production of Beyond Therapy, a comedy from the 1980s set in New York. The play runs from 15th to 19th October in the Pearse Centre at 8 p.m. each evening; there's also a matinee on Saturday 19th at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost €12 and can be reserved by mailing

I like the concept behind the theatre company:
"My name is Liam Hallahan, and I'm the founder and artistic director of Some Yank's Theatre Company. I've lived in Ireland for 10 years, having moved from the states when I was 12. I set up Some Yank's Theatre Company last year with the aim of bringing great American plays that aren't seen enough in Irish theatre to the stage. We hope to add a bit of extra colour to the Irish theatre scene with our productions. Scenes from a lot of great American plays pop up in lots of acting courses and classes, but the full plays aren't performed very often.  Beyond Therapy is our second full show, after The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute and a showcase of American scenes we held back in May, called 'Some Yank's Scene Slam'."
Ireland's theatre scene is already very vibrant but I think this could add something new.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Wunderkammer

So before I go any further: Wunderkammer is astounding and you should see it as soon as you can. Get over to the Dublin Theatre Festival website or office and get booking. Tickets are limited and the show won't be around for long.

Wunderkammer is the opening show for this year's Dublin Theatre Festival, and deservedly so. The group behind Wunderkammer (Circa) featured in the Festival a few years ago and were pretty damn amazing back then: and if anything they're even more impressive now. Wunderkammer is nominally inspired by circus acts, but the seven performers do things you'll never see in a typical circus. The audience reaction is entertaining in itself: it's just one I-can't-believe-humans-can-do-that after another. Oh, and the music's not bad either.

An amazing show - strongly recommended.

Rating: exceptional, 5/5.

Wunderkammer runs until 29th September in the Gaiety Theatre. Tickets cost €25 to €35 (and are worth every cent!). The show runs for approximately 85 minutes, with no interval. Suggested for audiences 12+.

Exhibition by new art group in Malahide

There's a new group of artists in the Portmarnock / Malahide area, 4rtists. Their first exhibition is on in Malahide Library starting on 28th September and running for two weeks.

Quick description: "We paint local scenes, city scenes, and lots of quirky stuff in between. Godfrey is our watercolourist, Yvonne paints mostly in oils, Paula and Mary paint both in watercolour and acrylic. We hope to have at least 4 major exhibitions of our own throughout the year."

Their works can be viewed on,, and; and they can be emailed at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stranger than Fiction competition

The winners of our Stranger than Fiction competition are:


Please get in touch by email with your contact details!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Culture Night Review

Previous years have seen me scuttling around the city doing as many as 11 events, and then having to sit out the rest of the weekend, so this year I opted for a more sensible approach.

First port of call was the Little Museum of Dublin, which opened to much fanfare a couple of years ago and I had still not managed to see.  It's so little that a queue had formed but luckily we were only in it for about 10 minutes.  Shortened down tours were being done and we joined one just as it began.  Each of the rooms has a visual feast of artefacts, pictures and furniture.  Our tour guide was excellent, pointing out the best bits, sharing anecdotes and encouraging a healthy dose of audience participation.  The tour took about half an hour and the queue was significantly longer on the way out.  I'll definitely be back for a longer visit soon.  I would like to know the history of that particular house, which didn't come up.

After a short break for food in Gourmet Burger Kitchen, we joined a tour of Powerscourt Townhouse centre.  It's a place that has long fascinated me: built for Viscount Powerscourt in the late 18th century for when he stayed in town, the notion that it all belonged to one family and it was their smaller house fires the imagination.  The tour promised to show the house as it was then.  Unfortunately, it was all very disappointing.  A large crowd had gathered on the steps and the tour guide had no microphone, so we couldn't hear most of what she said at the start, despite being relatively close.  We followed her downstairs through Pygmalion Bar, which was the kitchens.  The groups was so large that getting through the noisy bar was a bit of a mess and she'd already started talking again when we reached the main floor of the centre.  We tried listening again but really couldn't hear a thing.  I did mention it to some other staff members and they apologised, saying it wouldn't be so loud on the upper floors.  However, time on Culture Night is precious and I didn't want to waste time straining.  I do note from their website that tours can be booked, so I'm going to try and get a posse together.

A member of our party wanted to see the New Art Studio on Mary's Abbey, so we trundled across the city to see a veritable commune of artists and their studios.  I was amused at how messy they all were - not Francis Bacon level, but all could do with a scrub-up.  Some artists were offering wine but I was driving, so I had pass.  They had made temporary use of a space in the Capel Building across the road for an exhibition.

One reason I had my car was so that we could make our final stop of the evening.  Dunsink Observatory had long been on my list of places to visit and we headed out there, with some helpful from our smartphones.  The road up to it would not be out of place in a zombie film, which of course means it's a great location for seeing the stars, and the city.  We parked and joined an excellent talk (the highlight of the evening) on the history of Dunsink and its Grubb telescope.  William Rowan Hamilton was based there for his whole illustrious career and Erwin Schrodinger worked there during his time in Ireland.  After the talk, we had a wander around the main house and got to look through some telescopes set up to view a very nice Harvest moon.

So that was it for my 2013 Culture Night.  Well done to all involved.  More of this.  Why can't it be more often?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Review - Animus

Animus is a Fringe Festival play combining video, dance, live music and dialogue. A very Fringe-y concept, I'll sure you'll agree, and fortunately the diverse elements all fit together to create an enjoyable performance.

Animus is a story of revenge; and as there's rarely benefit in a review spelling out the details of the plot I'll just say that it starts a little slowly but picks up as it goes on. Just make sure you pay some attention to the live music - it's excellent but could easily go unnoticed in the background.

Rating: good - ***

The final two performance are on Friday 20th September and Saturday 21st September, both at 8:45 pm in the Lir Academy. Duration: 75 minutes without an interval. Tickets cost €14 / €12.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Dublin’s first pop-up Instagram gallery"

Well here's something a bit different: "The Instagallery is Dublin’s first pop-up Instagram gallery and it showcases photos taken and shared by Irish bloggers and the vibrant Irish Instagram community. This will be an event that will promote creativity and sharing amongst the city’s many photographers, both novice and expert. So pop down and join us for an evening of fun and digital delights, such as our interactive photo-wall. This installation will be a living, breathing, moving photo collage, featuring a constantly updating collection of Instagram images."

Their launch party is on Thursday 19th at 7pm in The Fumbally Exchange, No.5 Dame Lane, Dublin 2. Could be a bit of fun.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stranger than Fiction

The Irish Film Institute's Stranger than Fiction documentary film festival returns to Dublin from 26th - 29th September.  The festival will feature an array of films, both short and regular length from both home and abroad.  The full program of events can be found here.

I quite fancy seeing Muscle Shoals about southern US music and Aisling Gheal about sean-nós singers in rural Ireland.  Hmm, sensing a theme here!
As you would expect, they're also running a number of masterclasses, talks and panel discussions with some of the featured filmmakers.  Tickets for each film cost €9 and IFI membership is required but if you're a regular IFI attendee, the €25 annual charge is a steal.  Don't worry if you only want to see one or two movies - they'll add a "one off membership" to your ticket at a cost of €1.

The IFI has very kindly offered Dublinculture some tickets to give away to Salma.  We've got two pairs of tickets for the showing on Friday 27th September at 1830.

About the film
Throughout her extraordinary career, director Kim Longinotto has given a voice to strong female characters and Salma is no different. In the documentary, respected Tamil poet Salma returns to her village where as a child, she was locked up by her parents and given up to an arranged marriage.

To win,just re-tweet the link to this blog post and we'll announce the winners on Monday 23rd September.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review - 'Pondling'

One of the wonderful things about Dublin's Fringe Festival is the sheer number and variety of the shows - sometimes it's fun just to pick something on short notice with no advance knowledge of what it's about. Trust in Róise Goan and her team: they wouldn't include a production if it weren't good enough. So I popped down to my local theatre, the beautiful Smock Alley, to see the opening performance of Pondling, a one-woman show by Gúna Nua.

It's lovely. Genevieve Hulme-Beaman hits the mark right from the start in her role as a young farmgirl with a crush, making good use of the atmospheric venue with a simple and effective set. Pondling is a delightful and entertaining comedy.

Rating: good - 3/5

Duration: 50 minutes. Tickets cost €13 / €11. Continues in Smock Alley Theatre until Friday 13th September 2013.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Irish Craft Beer Festival @ the RDS 5-8 September

The Irish Craft Beer Festival starts today!  They open their doors at 1700 tonight and open at noon for the next 3 days, until late.  It's their third outing and I think they have the edge on the St Patrick's Day beer fest, largely because they are indoors.

They promise over 100 Irish craft beers as well as food and live music.  They're also running a couple of masterclasses on starting brewing and matching beers with food.  There's even an app.  One tiny criticism, I can't find where it is in the RDS, which is a large place.  I asked them on twitter and they said it's "Hall 4, Anglesea rd entrance".  This is the same bit it was in last time: also known as the Industries Hall.

Entry costs a mere €10 and includes a nice souvenir glass (to add to my collection of beer festival glasses).  Tickets can be bought online or on the door.  Pints are a fiver and half pints, for those who want to try lots are €2.50.

What are you waiting for?*

*apart from it not being 1700 yet.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Exhibition in White Lady Art - 'Holy Smokes and Cereal Killers'

And... we're back, and just in time for festival season. I've a good excuse for being busy recently: I've put my money where my mouth is and moved to Temple Bar. Despite the bad old image of the place some people still have, honestly, it's a wonderful area.

On the subject of Temple Bar, Wellington Quay's White Lady Art has an upcoming exhibition, 'Holy Smokes and Cereal Killers'. It opens on Friday 6th September and runs until 29th September (although the venue is closed on Mondays). White Lady Art does a great launch party, but even better is the vibrancy of the art - and the prices. It's nice to go to a launch and expect that not only might I want to buy something but that I won't feel ripped-off if I do.

The artist for this exhibition is known as MyTarPit - his blog is His style won't be to everyone's taste but I quite liked his cereal box works when I saw them previously.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Malahide Has it

The Malahide Has It festival returns this weekend, 27th-28th July with a good range of entertainment and family friendly events.  Start the weekend off with a free tai chi class on the green at 10am on Saturday.  There is a fun fair starting today and running all weekend on the beach.  I quite fancy a go of the giant Connect Four and Giant Jenga on Saturday afternoon. 

On Sunday, the local artists take over the railings of the tennis club to exhibit their works.  Gibney's will have live music from 1400 - 2200.

Hope our summer weather returns!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Be part of the Dublin Fringe Festival - 'Songs in the Key of D'

There are auditions starting on 29th July for singers for a new Dublin Fringe Festival show, Songs in the Key of D. The producers are particularly keen to get male singers.

More details are here. In summary: "The performance will explore musicians from Handel to Hansard and Lynott to Drew and will be a wonderful opportunity to be part of an exciting new choir. It’s open to anyone living in or around Dublin, whether you’re born in the city or not."

Although the show itself will be held in Smock Alley Theatre the venues for the auditions are:
1. Monday July 29th in UCD Student Centre, UCD Belfield from 6 - 8pm
2. Tuesday July 30th in axis: Ballymun, Dublin 9 from 6pm to 8pm
3. Saturday August 3rd in Fringe Lab, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 from 2 - 6pm

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Free outdoor concert on 21st July

No doubt the Phoenix Park will be full of people this Sunday, but why not take the time to visit the bandstand at 1pm for a free concert?  Details below.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

10 Days In Dublin

The 10 Days In Dublin festival starts today. Details are here,

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The 1913 Lockout

In our decade of centenary events, the 1913 Dublin Lockout is next.  An interesting commemorative event is planned throughout July and August.

The Dublin Tenement Experience lets visitors into number 14 Henrietta St to experience the tenements up close.  This particular building is unchanged since 1913.  Henrietta St, to my mind, is one of the most interesting streets in Dublin.  It was built by 18th century property developer, Luke Gardiner, who lived at number 10.  The street was then inhabited by wealthy merchants, business people and landed gentry.  However, within a century, it had become a street of poverty.  The 1911 cencus records vver 1000 people living on Henrietta St, with families living in one room or even sharing. 

The tour runs 6 days a week and costs a modest €5.50.  Booking can be made through their website.  I hope to get along to it during July and report back.

If you're interested in knowing more about the Lockout, get yourself a copy of Strumpet City by James Plunkett, which is also, fittingly, this year's One City, One Book pick.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap is currently running at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre for a week.  I saw it play tonight to a full house.

World's longest continually running play.
This tour celebrates 60 years of it.
The audience is asked at the end of the play to never reveal whodunnit.  Unusually, people adhere to this.
Agatha Christie gifted her grandson with the royalties of this play.  He ended up being her only descendant, so he got the lot.  Which must be a lot.

So since tradition prevents me from divulging too much, I will only say: it's funny, it's good, if you like Christie, you will like this.

Tickets start from €18.  It finishes on Saturday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review - Shush in the Abbey Theatre

The latest play on the Abbey stage is Shush, a comedy by Elaine Murphy about a girls' night in. It plays its stereotypes well instead of falling victim to them, and most importantly it's just damn funny. Shush is set in modern Dublin but avoids the temptation to bemoan the state of affairs.

A thoroughly enjoyable comedy with some terrific one-liners.
Rating: ****

Shush runs in the Abbey Theatre until 20th July 2013. Tickets cost from €13 to €40.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dublin Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is not my thing, but I guess it's good to see Dubliners trying out musical styles that aren't just more of the same. Axis Ballymun have an event on Friday 21st featuring an artist called Lethal Dialect. No, I hadn't heard of him before either, but if you type "Lethal" into Youtube his name comes up ahead of "Lethal Weapon", so someone must like his material.

Details from Axis:
Axis presents “The Home Sessions: Lethal Dialect.” This one off gig will see Lethal Dialect performing vintage tracks coupled with unheard material from his brand new album 1988, currently being recorded at axis. This is a unique opportunity to catch never before heard Lethal Dialect tracks mixed with old favourites in an unplugged setting.

Event Details:

Date: Friday 21st June
Time: 9pm
Tickets €5
Address: axis, Main Street, Ballymun, Dublin 9
Telephone: 01 883 2100
Twitter: @axisBallymun

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Abigail's Party

I was at the opening night of Abigail's Party in the Gaiety last night. 
The play was written by Mike Leigh and the original 1977 production starred his then wife, Alison Steadman (of later fame as Mrs Bennet in the superlative 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice) in the main role of Beverly.  This current production retains the original setting and comes to us after a successful run in the West End.

The drama takes places over the course of an evening's gathering at Beverly and Laurence's home, with new neighbours, Tony and Angela, and old neighbour, Sue.  A lot of the comedy comes from their accents, mannerisms and physicality, while the conversation revolves around intensely mundane topics, while the characters get drunker and drunker.  Hannah Waterman, on stage for almost the entire play, deserves praise for her performance as Beverly, as does Samuel James for his ability to say so much with very short dialogue as Tony.

I particularly liked the set - a symphony of browns and oranges as befits the late 1970s setting.  It was very reminiscent of my childhood but I did wonder if this setting, and the things I found amusing in it, were originally meant to be funny.  When the play was first performed, it would have been a perfectly normal suburban setting.  Things like Beverly sticking a bottle of beaujolais in the fridge is funny now but would it have been then?  For me the best part was a dance sequence, about which not much can be said without giving the game away.

As the play progresses, the tone of it makes the final act drama seem very sudden and melodramatic, while still providing the laughs.
It runs for just one week and, though I'm still hearing ads, I've also heard of problems getting tickets.  These short runs (another coming next week to the Gaiety) don't leave much time for word of mouth and organising tickets.  Would a two-week run work better?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

RHA's 183rd annual exhibition

I was at the Varnishing Day of the annual Royal Hibernian Academy's exhibition this afternoon.  The Varnishing Day is an old term and today means something like a preview does in the theatre.  The official opening is tomorrow and the exhibition continues until 17th August.

If you know nothing about the RHA, then let me give you a potted history.  They were founded by royal charter in 1821 with the express purpose of holding an annual exhibition of works by members of the Society of Artists.  William Ashford, probably still today counted amongst the finest painters we ever produced, was their first president and he is commemorated by having a room named for him in the purpose-built gallery, which now stands on Ely Place, the original premises on Abbey St having been destroyed in the Rising.  The RHA engages in education for both children and adults, and maintains a large art library and archive.

Over half the works being shown are selected through open submission, for which anyone may apply.  Other works are selected by the committee and you will see many artists with the initials "RHA" after their names.  The current list includes some of the foremost Irish artists today.

Entry to the exhibition is entirely free and most of the works on show are for sale, though many will be bought today, and tomorrow at the official opening.  I liked a lot of what I saw today, as well as engaging in a healthy amount of "I could have done that myself".  One prominently placed painting looked like a slice of toast to me but when I read the label discovered it was an open space and field.  That's me told!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Uberfest Malahide

A new music festival is taking place in Malahide over the coming weekend.  Situated in Bridgefield, which is very close to the DART station, it will feature top acts every night.  Ryan Sheridan will be playing this evening but the big event is on Sunday when the stars of the Commitments as well as the Dublin Gospel Choir take to the stage.  Tickets are available for all events here.  Here's hoping the weather will be dry.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

People's Art Exhibition

The next People's Art Exhibition takes place from 10th - 12th May around the railings of St. Stephen's Green.  This long established event features amateur artists from all over the country.  It's an excellent way to pick up some original and unique art and not as pricey as you might imagine.  Here's hoping for no rain, if not actual decent weather!

Freshly Squeezed

If you're looking for something to do over the weekend, the next couple of posts should be of interest.

Freshly Squeezed is a student film festival running on 12th May in the Sugar Club.  They are an international not-for-profit organisation setup to showcase the work of student and newly graduated students.  They'll be featuring 25 short films throughout the day and best of all, entry is free!

Review: 'The Man From Earth'

Guest review of 'The Man From Earth' by reader Kevin B:

The Man From Earth is a thought-provoking play based on an awarding-winning screenplay and low-budget indie-movie of the same name. The play has been brought to Dublin by the theatre group No Drama and is on until the 11th May 2013 in the Sean O'Casey Theatre in East Wall.

Though technically in the genre of science fiction, it has more in common with the excellent sub-genre of alternative history. This is not a genre of play commonly accessible in Dublin so the chance should not be missed to sample it. Without giving the plot away, if you enjoy reasonably deep conversations with friends about history, science and philosophy, then you should enjoy this.

Of particular note was the lead actor, Daniel O'Brien, who delivers a compelling performance from a demanding role and lead actress Aisling Morgan who handles the understated subtleties of her role admirably.

Though one hour twenty minutes long with no interval, it has enough plot twists to keep the audience stimulated.

Tickets cost €12 / €10 and are available here. Perhaps it's a sign of the play's merits that we received a second guest review, a review of the opening night performance by Padraig McAuliffe, who comments: "This adaptation of a screen-play by [Jerome] Bixby, who wrote screenplays for the Twilight Zone and Star Trek, does what the best of these series excelled in, namely speculate about the limits of science and man’s place within its laws. ... Highly recommended."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

'The Man From Earth' - No Drama Theatre

No Drama Theatre's latest production starts today, Tuesday 7th May, in the Sean O'Casey Theatre in East Wall. The play is an adaptation of Jerome Bixby's The Man From Earth and is described by No Drama as "a philosophical drama with a science fiction core". (Bixby also wrote several episodes of Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.) Tickets cost €12 / €10 and are available here.

Monday, May 6, 2013

City Intersections - Community & Food

City Intersections is back on Tuesday May 7th 2013. This month their topic is "Community & Food", discussing DIY urban food production, food markets, localism, communal gardens and allotments.

The event starts at 7 pm in the Workman's Club on Wellington Quay and entry is free of charge.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Upcoming exhibition in White Lady Art opening on 3rd May

From White Lady Art:

"Third World"
Marca Mix and Kathrina "KIN" Rupit dual exhibition
Street Art on mixed media
Affordable and collectable art

This exhibition will be a showcase of new work from street artists Marca Mix (South Africa) and Kathrina "KIN" Rupit (Mexico). These two artists will explore what it means to be from a third world country - or in the case of Mexico, a former third world country - and the impact street art can have on the lives and culture of its people.
It will run for the first three weeks in May, with the usual craic at the opening with music from CAUSE and EFFECT, free booze and BYOB.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

'Bankers' in the New Theatre

You might recall that a few years ago a well-known media commentator suggested that Irish theatre failed to address the economic (and moral, political, etc.) crisis facing the country. I think it's fair to say that since then matters have changed and there've been many artistic and theatrical works produced about economic and political issues. One banker friend of mine has wondered if crisis-fatigue has set in: are people tired of hearing of gloom and doom? My guess is that many people do indeed want to move on; but on the other hand, some can't do so whether they want to or not.

In any case, the New Theatre in Temple Bar has a new production starting soon, Bankers by Brian McAvera:

"What happens if you have lost everything? If you have nothing more to lose?
What happens if you are a decent man, an ex-teacher, who has been destroyed by the banks? What would you do to change the system?

A well-known banker, a CEO, wakes up to find himself blindfolded and bound. His wife and his sixteen year old daughter are in the same position. Then the kidnapper enters: quiet, determined, organised. This is no spur-of-the-moment action. They are in a small disused theatre which he has soundproofed. And he has a plan...

And no, this man isn’t a psychopath, but he is motivated, terminally, and as such he is very, very dangerous… "

Previews start on April 29th 2013 and tickets cost €15/€12.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

GPO museum

The GPO Museum is open for free tomorrow.  See here for more.

I reviewed it a couple of years ago when it first opened - it's a fantastic little museum.  Can't believe it's nearly 3 years old!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

James Joyce's Dubliners - new audio production

Last year's book for One City, One Book was James Joyce's Dubliners, a collection of short stories set in Dublin in the early 20th century. Wonderland Productions created an enjoyable audio walking-tour based on the book. They've now adapted that as an audiobook featuring ten of the stories from Dubliners.

As a collection of short stories Dubliners is well suited to audio adaptation. Most of the pieces are about 10 to 20 minutes long, with the exceptions of Grace (2:56 minutes) and The Dead (46:16 minutes). I jumped straight to my favourite piece, the wonderful Counterparts. The other stories on the three CDs are The Sisters, An Encounter, Eveline, Two Gallants, The Boarding House, A Little Cloud, and A Painful Case.

The greatest strength of the production is the quality of Joyce's writing, but the voice acting is also good throughout and in some places excellent. Barry McGovern shows great versatility and skill; I particularly liked his Old Cotter and the old man in An Encounter. In addition to speech, music and other audio effects are used well. I've only one quibble: although it's standard practice for young boys' voices to be portrayed by adult female voice actors I don't think this worked perfectly in this case; in contexts such as animations the visuals immediately inform the audience that the character is a boy, but that doesn't apply here.

Conclusion: Wonderland Productions' audio adaptation of Dubliners provides an enjoyable new way to appeciate Joyce's collection of short stories. If you like the book - or are looking for a gift for a fan of Joyce - I'd recommend it.

The CDs sell for €19.99. The total playing time is 2 hours 55 minutes. Wonderland have also recorded a video clip of a scene from Counterparts for Storymap,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Drum Belly

The latest offering from The Abbey opened on Wednesday to great acclaim, so Dave and I thought we'd better see it and report.  We did so last night and the following review is our combined opinion.  As a title, Drum Belly doesn't give much away and indeed it's more than half way through the 90 minute run (no interval) that you find out the origin of the name.  Richard Dormer was commissioned to write this for the Abbey.  The play opens on a minimalist set - a poured concrete floor, bare walls with props moved on and off by the actors.  It's Brooklyn, 1969, and the characters are all involved in organised crime.  Liam Carney's garrulous Harvey Marr talks to a silent Gerard Byrne's Walter Sorrow for at least 10 minutes.  The brash tone of his talk is set against the silence of Sorrow's careful work (I don't want to spoil the surprise).  In fact, the juxtaposition of silent characters with incredibly loud and talkative ones is used more than once to great effect throughout the show.  At this stage, I had no idea where the play was going.  The following scene, and I promise I'm not doing a blow by blow here, changed everything.  It included a dance number, a jukebox and a man named Mary.  This brings me to a point: there are no women in this play.  It's true that had there been a female role, it would have been quite token (like the Sopranos or other popular dramas about organised crime) but I still felt it strange to be watching a play entirely without women.

All of the characters are brilliantly drawn and solidly acted.  Ciarán O'Brien again shines like the rising star he is but I also loved Ryan McPartland's nuanced performance along with Gerard Byrne's entirely silent turn.  The set echoed the drama in a curious way: at the start, everything is clean cut and tidy but as the drama unfolded and became more complex, the stage became messier, literally strewn with the detritus of previous scenes.  The neatfreak in me was bothered by this litter but it worked within the context.   Also, they score points for having rain on the stage - I love this in live theatre.  I think the decision to run without an interval is the right one - the spell would be broken by a pause and difficult to regain.  The use of music throughout was excellent and had the audience toe-tapping along.

Ultimately, it's a solid but not stellar production...and I felt very much a man's play.  Dave liked it more than I did but we were both thoroughly entertained and we talked about it for ages afterwards. Incidentally, the bar has themed cocktails - a nice touch.  Drum Belly runs until 11th May and tickets start at €13.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Messiah on the Street

One of my favourite events each year in Dublin is Messiah on the Street, an outdoor performance of Handel's Messiah performed on Fishamble Street in Temple Bar. It's on at 1 pm on Saturday 13th (i.e. tomorrow) and further details are available here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

First Thursdays - April 2013

It's First Thursday again. I enjoyed last month's tour, so I'll be joining the tour again this time. It starts at 6 pm at the Royal Hibernian Academy. I'll also be taking a look at a new exhibition in White Lady Art on Wellington Quay. The exhibition is called "Exile to Wonderland" and is a solo exhibition by Rosemary Fallon. It continues until 24th April.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Drum Belly

The Abbey Theatre's latest production begins previews on 5th April with the official opening next week on 10th April.

It's a new commission written by Richard Dormer and directed by Sean Holmes.  Set in Brooklyn in the summer of 1969, it explores the world of Irish gangs - all second generation Irish - and how they deal with their place in New York, their heritage and their day to day lives, set to a backdrop of a changing America.

Liam Carney in Drum Belly, courtesy of the Abbey Theatre

Look out for a review from Dave and myself later next week.  The play runs until 11th May.  Tickets are available from the Abbey box office as usual.  Prices range from €13 - €40.

Monday, March 11, 2013

All Ireland Craft Beer fest

The now annual All Ireland Craft Beer Fest makes a welcome return to George's Dock in the IFSC over the St Patrick's long weekend.  It starts on 13th March and runs until close of business on Monday 18th - a very long weekend!

It's free in Wednesday-Friday from 12 noon until 19:00 after which you pay a mere fiver entry.  This €5 entrance cost also applies at the weekend.  More knowledgeable people than me can talk about the beer but here is a link to the list of suppliers at the event.  Take note, they do tend to run out of stuff as the weekend goes on...meaning that you might be down to not a lot of choice by Monday.

There's also lots of food stalls and entertainment to be had.  Past experience tells me it can get very loud inside the tent, but looking at the snow on the ground outside today, maybe outside will be worse!!  Whatever the situation, it's always a great event.  Can't wait!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

First Thursdays

No, we're not dead. Normal posting will resume soon.

This evening is another "First Thursday", meaning that galleries and other arts venues remain open later than usual, often featuring new exhibitions or launches. Thanks, Temple Bar Cultural Trust!

Details are here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

City Intersections 12th February

The next session  of City Intersections takes place tomorrow evening at the Twisted Pepper on Abbey St.  The evening's topic is "Smart Dublin" and will feature talks from Rob Kitchin, Mary Mulvihill and Niamh Rabbitt.  These sessions are always worth, free in and start at 19:00.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: 'Darkness & Light' in Mill Theatre Dundrum

Chicken & Fox Productions have a short run of two one-act plays. They're presented under the title 'Darkness & Light' and are on in Mill Theatre Dundrum at 8 pm this evening and tomorrow (i.e. 8th and 9th February). Tickets cost €15/€13 and the performance runs for 2 hours including a 15 minute interval between the two plays.

The first and shorter of the plays is “Sprinting Toward The Light” by Erin Hug: "What if you’re not the person your friends think you are? Alice, Jack and Robin have been friends since school and they meet up in their late 20’s oblivious to the fact they are no longer as close as they were and their relationships have become more complicated. Will they achieve their goals in life?" It's enjoyable, and hits its emotional mark. A solid 3/5. (Just as an aside: Dear Internet, please quit with the marks-out-of-five inflation. Three is a success, not a failure.)

The second play is “All Fall Down” by Ciaran Murphy. It's about home care in modern Ireland: "Conor is dependent on the care of his older sister Eva, an untrained carer. Has the system failed them? What help is out there? This production examines the deep undercurrents and strain on this sibling relationship." I was concerned that this might be worthy but moralising or overly bleak, but not at all. It's well-written and packs a lot of variety into a short play. Kevin O'Flynn is a skilled and engaging physical actor and, thanks to the assistance of the National Council for The Blind, his understated portrayal of blindness is the highlight of the production. A clear 4/5.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wes Anderson films in Little Green

News from Little Green Cafe & Gallery:
The Green Room: Presents a month of Wes Anderson Little Green will be dedicating the entire month of February to the Fantastic Mr. Wes Anderson! Every Tuesday we will kick off at 6pm with two of the iconic filmmaker’s movies played back to back. Hosted by our friend Damien Mc Clurg there will be a mix of the classic favorites and a few hidden surprises to keep everyone on their toes. You may even see a film you haven’t seen before! Free popcorn will be giving out liberally and for those of you who decided to dress up as one of the famous characters you will be rewarded with some lovely prizes! We will also be playing the incredible soundtracks till late so if you would like to do something different with you Tuesdays pop down and check it out! Also if you want to book a table or the comfy couch send us on an email to

Monday, February 4, 2013

Joycean-esque goings on in TCD

A unique set of productions comes to the Samuel Beckett theatre in Trinity College  and the O'Reilly theatre on Great Denmark St this week. Tentheater Berlin will present 3 pieces on Joycean themes in a multilingual performance (sub-titles as well though).  Rather than produce actual Joyce pieces, these productions focus on the author, his family and life.  Further details can be found on TCD's theatre site and on the TeNTheater site.  Booking is available through

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 15-24th February

The JDIFF programme of events and films is out this morning on their website.  Booking is now available for all scheduled events...some are already sold out, like the screening of Much Ado About Nothing with Joss Whedon in attendance!  The website is not as difficult to find things on as last year but it still could do with a serious overhaul.  We'll have more about the festival closer to the time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee William's first successful play opens Rush Dramatic Society's new and 25th season at the Millbank Theatre on 23rd January.  It'll play nightly from Wednesday - Saturday for 4 weeks.  Tickets from €10 available on 843 7475 or by email.  Advance bookings are already impressive so I'd say book now if you're keen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A hint of Strictly

I was disappointed to see that the Strictly Come Dancing live tour isn't coming to Dublin this year (or even Belfast).  While not a cheap night of entertainment, it was always highly enjoyable.  One small hint of it shows up at the National Concert Hall later this month though.  Anton du Beke and Erin Boag are doing a one-off pricey matinee gig dancing to old-fashioned Hollywood music on 26th January.  Expect a lot of Fred and Ginger type numbers.  It won't satisfy the real Strictly aficionado but it might stop you from booking a trip to Birmingham or somewhere to see the real live tour.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Tradfest returns to Temple Bar from 22nd - 27th January next.  Now in its 8th year, there is a veritable cornucopia of traditional Irish music to listen to and participate in - over 200 events.  This year they're tied in with The Gathering and welcoming "home" the Diaspora.  Most of the events are ticketed and not free but the quality of the musicians performing means that few will be unhappy about paying to see them.  A few selected events but obviously full details on their online programme.  There are also plenty of family friendly activities and open mic stuff too.

Mary Coughlan - a free gig at 18:00 on 26th January.  Warning: outdoors!

Sharon Shannon & Family, both 25th & 26th January (19:30 doors) at St Patrick's Cathedral - tickets are €40.

Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill & the Sands Family - 23rd January at 20:00 in Christchurch Cathedral - tickets are €35.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New exhibition in White Lady Art

From Alexa in White Lady Art:
Opening Thursday 17th January, 6pm - 10pm 14 Wellington Quay Dublin 2

 White Lady Art invites you to "Fractured, America: an exhibition of work by Dublin artist, Hawkie". These pieces of work by Hawkie are the result of time spent and enjoyed traveling across America. Fleeting impressions of characters met or seen, experiences and life in another place. "These drawings were made in November/December 2011 during a road trip in California, USA. Just before returning to Ireland I broke my neck while surfing in Venice Beach. Despite my injury (and strong medication) I continued to draw and sketch characters and scenes from Venice and beyond. Since my first 'J1' summer in 1996 I've traveled across, worked, played and got lost in the USA. What I've learned is that each city block, bus trip or random encounter will give me something for the sketchbook, probably more than anywhere else I've ever been. Many of these drawings were created by doing quick sketches right there and then, however some were retrospective...some make sense, some never will. Enjoy. Hawkie". Hawkie will be doing some live drawing on the night, and we will have a great live set from acoustic songwriter, Malojian, who will be releasing his new album "The Deer's Cry" on February 4th 2013. BYOB with some drinks for free on the night for early types, as usual!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art exhibition in The Front Lounge

Two artists, Catherine Ryan and Gearoid MacOireachtaigh, are launching a new exhibition on Friday 11th January at 7 pm with a wine reception in The Front Lounge. Wine and art, great! The exhibition runs until the end of January 2013.