Friday, October 10, 2014

Oxjam Takeover 17-19th October

Oxfam is having a music event at their Francis St premises.  All for charity, of course.

I particularly recommend seeing the Booka Brass Band, who Dave and I caught at this year's Electric Picnic.

Tickets are modestly priced.  Check it out.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Prom night all over again

The folks at Hunt & Gather are putting on an 80s Prom Night, which sounds like fun.  17th October in The Pint on Eden Quay.  Details below.

H&G 1st Birthday: PROM NIGHT class of '87

Its hard to believe it was only a year ago little auld Hunt & Gather threw one of the first of many gatherings. We firmly believe in celebrating in full debutante style.

We would like to formally ask you out to our very own PROM NIGHT....

Men, don your most ill fitted rented tux. Ladies, daub that ruby lipstick and backcomb your hair. It’s time to step out of the shadows for a night of cheese, nostalgia and oh so much hairspray as Hunt&Gather presents The Prom. 

We at H&G understand the importance of your Prom and like most people we wish you could go back and do it right. Well on the 17th of October we are letting you do just that!

Set in the eccentric location of The Pint we’ll transport you to a place of serious 1980/90’s prom fantasticness! We’ll have Dj’s blasting out all the classics and ‘the robot’ will be highly encouraged! We’ll have a photo booth ready for you to retake those Prom pictures (cringey backdrops included)! A make up corner to get your sparkle and shine on. There will also be a vote for our alternative Prom King and Queen so be prepared to strut your stuff to gain votes!

The Pint will be providing some sweet drinks deals and some spiked punch! There won’t be any principle tapping you on the shoulder as you dance to the wee hours of the morning!

We’ll be pre-selling tickets to this event so we suggest you pick yours up a.s.a.p. as there will be a limited number on offer!

Standard Admission Tickets : €12

Music curated by Discotekken TBA.

Hope to catch you on the dance floor!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Review: The Mariner

The Mariner is a play by Hugo Hamilton currently running in the Gate Theatre as part of the 2014 Dublin Theatre Festival. The Mariner is about a Royal Navy sailor who returns home in 1916 after being injured at the Battle of Jutland.

This might be one of those plays you'll either love or hate. The festival's blurb describes it as "exciting" - well no, sorry, it most certainly isn't. It's slow, dull, and feels rather too long. I'd be surprised if many audience members weren't relieved when it ended. But... it all depends what you're looking for. If you want a play to mull over, break down into layers and discuss or critique at length then The Mariner is a far more promising play. A play doesn't have to be exciting to be good; and the Mariner manages to be both superficially uninteresting yet enjoyable to consider at length. Perhaps it's like exercise or Beckett; sometimes you only appreciate it properly when it's over.

If you try to enjoy the play just at the level of the obvious plot and characters (mother, wife, returned sailor), you might well hate it. Arguably the key characters are the off-stage ones you hear about through the on-stage characters; some of these are based on real historical persons. And at the risk of overanalysing this, Hamilton seems to be operating on a few different layers here, all of which are just as important and valid as the literal interpretation. You might, for example, view the play with the mariner's identity being Ireland. At a push, you might even consider him to be a 20th century Will Mariner - do a google - or as being partly inspired by Hamilton's own search for identity. Your interpretations might differ.

Unfortunately though, whatever intriguing subtext the play possesses rests on a narrative too weak to support it.

Conclusion: 3/5 - a clever play that many will find boring.

The Mariner runs until 25th October 2014 in the Gate Theatre. The play's duration is about 90 minutes, with no interval. Tickets cost €25.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dublin Theatre Festival 2014

Tomorrow - 25th September 2014 - is the first day of this year's Dublin Theatre Festival. The DTF is the highlight of Dublin's "festival season", so I'd like to provide a few suggestions about what you might go see.

The Seagull And Other Birds - Pan Pan Theatre - I saw a rehearsal for this and was impressed and amused. Now, "reimagining of Anton Chekhov's much-loved comic masterpiece" with a play-within-a-play might not sound like it'll actually be funny, but this has potential. There's a different play in each performance, and the one I saw was just hilarious, a deliberate mockery of overly-ambitious art-house-style plays. If you're an infrequent theatre-goer The Seagull might not be for you, but if you're a regular, go see this.

Nearer to the other end of the conventionality spectrum is Spinning, "a contemporary tragedy" by Fishamble. As you might know Fishamble has a strong reputation, so hopefully this will live up to my expectations. I'll let you know.

After Sarah Miles - I saw this one-man play over the summer and gave it 4/5. My review is here. One caveat though: I saw the play in Smock Alley's Boys' School, and I'm not certain it'll work as well in the several venues it'll be shown in as part of the 'festival on tour'.

Hamlet - in German. This could be great, this could be terrible. *Sigh* - now I want to see Hamlet in Danish with the cast from Borgen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Culture Night is Friday!

Friday 19th September has happened yet and I already know it will be one of the best nights in Dublin city this year.  Why?  Because it's Culture Night.  Dave and I are big fans of the night and over the years, it has seen us try to do as many things as possible (11 is my record!) in one night and, in other more mature years, focus on a particular area.

Here's some links to our previous years coverage, since a lot of the same things are open each year.


2012 - this also includes links to some earlier Culture Nights.

Of these older posts, the places that stick in my mind are the GPO museum and the Freemason's Lodge.

And what about this year?

I'm time poor this year, so I've only got a tour of the Royal College of Surgeons and Malahide Castle on my list.  The former is entirely new to me, and the latter's tour has been revamped in recent years.  I will report back.

If I did have time, here's a few picks.

Tour of Áras an Uachtaráin - quite possibly booked out by now but definitely worth checking out.

Chester Beatty Library - A-Z highlights tour would provide a taster that will make you go back for more.

Dublin Writers Museum - get in there while it's free!

Leprechaun Museum - another one to get in while free, they've got 3 performances and a table quiz this year (surely not all about leprechauns though?)

RTÉ broadcasts Arena live from Meeting House Square - featuring a screening of the Man on Bridge documentary.

The Liberties walking tour - one of the few not booked out.

Whatever you do, make sure to head into town.  There's always a great buzz about the place and lots of people.  Dublin Bus provide some free transport to get around the city.  If you were thinking of using a Dublin bike, get one early and keep it.  They go quickly on Culture Night - even with the new increased capacity.

Have a brilliant night!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Review: 'Old Flames'

The New Theatre is currently showing Old Flames, the latest play by Shane Burke. "The relationship between two sisters is put to the test when an ex-boyfriend is hired to paint their house in this new black comedy", is how the New Theatre describes the play.

I've enjoyed Burke's previous plays Flipside and The Horse Trading Diaries. As with those plays, Burke's script is again clever without ever being pretentious, and Old Flames is full of great one liners.

The play is well cast and - apart from a slightly stumbly opening few lines on the night I saw the play - the acting varied between good and excellent. I particularly liked that one of the actresses gave her wine glass a (subtle) swirl while holding it. It's only a minor gesture, but it's all those little things that make a play good.

Conclusion: Old Flames is fun and well-written. Go see it.

Old Flames continues in The New Theatre until 9th August 2014, starting at 7:30 each evening. The play runs for 75 minutes with no interval. Tickets cost €15 / €12.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review: 'Waiting for Godot' in Smock Alley

“Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It's awful.” - Estragon, summing up how many theatre-goers no doubt felt about Waiting for Godot over the decades.

Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar has recently started a run of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. There's no way I'm even going to try criticism with a play like this. Godot has been analysed (overanalysed?) extensively, for decades. I completely get why that would be - there's just so much great material to work with.

However: if you go to Godot expecting a conventional narrative, you will probably hate it. The first time I saw the play (many years ago) I hadn't been warned about Beckett's style, sometimes referred to as "theatre of the absurd", and damn was I annoyed. It remained my most hated play for many years. Plot? No. Excitement? Hell no. There's a whole lot of waiting and not a lot of Godot.

The good news though is that if you're in the right state of mind you'll be fine. More than fine; you'll... OK, you won't enjoy it, probably, but you'll laugh uncontrived laughs, and be glad you've seen the play. My breakthrough with Beckett was seeing his shorter plays and realising that they're the theatrical equivalent of abstract art; and similarly no-one demands explicit meaning and plot from Beethoven or Mozart.

So, what about this production? All the cast are good but Ronan Dempsey is particularly excellent as Pozzo. Mmmm, that's some fine fine fine Pozzo-ing. I don't have much else to say about the production because, well, they had a demanding script to work with and they just did a uniformly good job with it.

The decor of Smock Alley works well for the play, and of course Smock Alley is also just lovely as a venue. O'Hara's on tap, "Smocktail" cocktails, and you can bring drinks into the auditorium - nicely done Smock Alley, nicely done.

In summary: if you want good Beckett, this'll hit the spot. Just don't invite along anyone who wants to see a normal play.

Waiting for Godot continues in the main space of Smock Alley until 23rd August 2014, starting at 7:30 pm each evening. There is an interval of about 15 minutes. Tickets cost €16 / €14.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in Dublin Castle

Mouth on Fire have a new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream running from 23rd July to 3rd August 2014 in Dublin Castle. The venue is the garden of the Castle, with full seating and a backup indoor venue in case of bad weather. Oh, and this production is 1970's style glam-rock themed.

Tickets are just €6, and the play starts at 19:30 each evening.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: My Brilliant Divorce

My Brilliant Divorce is a one-woman comedy drama currently running in the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. Over the years the play has been performed in several venues internationally; and like most plays that last, it's good. In this production Tara Flynn (left) plays the protagonist Angela, a middle-aged woman faced with the prospect of divorce.

OK, so first off - is it funny? Yes indeed. Flynn has good material to work with and the experience to make the most of it. (And if you like the play, do a quick google: she has a few upcoming stand-up gigs in the near future.) She gets the audience laughing right from the start, and surprisingly for a one-person play there's never a lull in the entertainment. Perhaps more one-person plays should include an interval?

The audience members for the play were primarily of the same demographic as Angela, but I think anyone could enjoy this. (Eh, although probably it's not one for the kids.) The opening night was packed, with a great atmosphere, and the audience left in a good mood. So overall: win. Good play, talented actress, nice venue that allows drinks to be taken into the auditorium.

However: if you want to get your full money's worth, rather than just a laugh, I'd suggest thinking critically about the protagonist after the play. It's easy to like her, but she's disappointingly unsympathetic towards the misfortunes and flaws of others, both men and women. And I can't help wondering: if Angela were played by an average-looking middle-aged woman rather than Tara Flynn, could the play work?

My Brilliant Divorce continues in the Civic Theatre until Saturday 5th July, starting at 8 pm each evening. The play runs for about 90 minutes including an interval. Tickets cost €18 / €16. The play will also feature briefly at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire and the Axis in Ballymun, later this month.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Art in Howth

4 Artists are having an exhibition in the Old Courthouse in Howth this weekend, 28th - 29th June.  They'll have over 70 works on display.

Stop by and say hello.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Campo Viejo Tapas Trail

The Campo Viejo Tapas Trail concept is simple and fun: go from restaurant to restaurant, eating tapas and drinking wine.
We started in the newish Drury Buildings. The highlight here was a lamb meatball, which we were later given the recipe for. Dave liked Drury Buildings enough to return within a few days of the Tapas Trail - the little walled garden and the first-floor balcony are pleasant, although the wine selection was disappointingly limited. The leisurely stroll around the block towards the second venue featured a brief diversion while the restaurant prepared for our arrival. Our tapas guide gave a talk about... ah, this and that; he was an entertaining speaker. There was a bit about Dublin, a bit about tapas, and a bit about the wine company Campo Viejo. Since this review isn't an advert, we'll simply say that we approve of their sponsorship of street art, and suggest that this is a more natural fit than the bizarre "sports = beer" concept so many drinks companies seem keen on.

So, venue two: The Market Bar. More wine and a good selection of tapas including Patatas Bravas and a delicious piri piri chicken. One of the nice aspects of the tapas trail is that groups get shuffled around, so we found ourselves mingling with different people at each location.

The next restaurant was Zaragoza on South William Street. Zaragoza, like Drury Buildings, is a good example of the improvement of the Drury Street and South William Street area in recent years. (Did Zaragoza's venue used to be a golf shop?) It's bright and airy, the staff were friendly, and we liked the food. The highlight was the 'Mini Pig Burger'. Mmm. We definitely want to give Zaragoza another visit.

The final stop was Bagots Hutton (or "BH"), also on South William Street. It's a basement-level wine bar with a lot of character and the faintest hint of a musty smell. [Dessert isn't my specialist subject so I'll leave Claire to comment.] As we were there for dessert I can't make any judgement on the food or wine in BH in general, although for whatever it's worth a girl I know ran them out of the wine she and her friends were drinking one night. Maybe it was good wine? More evidence will be required before BH can be given a yay or nay. Claire adds "we had just a very tiny portion of banoffee pie here, it was good but I could have done with about 3 more. I've been on another occasion to BH and found the cheese board excellent with a good wine list."

At just €25 the Tapas Trail is excellent value - we can only presume everyone involved (correctly) regards it as good PR, and prices accordingly. The bad news? Tickets are hard to get. But if you're not able to get one for this year, well, there's always next year, and of course you can try out each of the restaurants and DIY-up your own tapas trail. Oh - and if you fancy a coffee afterwards, Clement & Pekoe just across the road from BH is nice.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Review: After Sarah Miles

After Sarah Miles is a one-man play currently on in Smock Alley Theatre in Temple Bar. It's performed in an almost narrative style, as the protagonist "Bobeen" tells his life story.

One-man plays can be dauntingly intense, but fortunately actor Don Wycherley gets the pace and tone spot on. Wycherley is entertaining right from the start. And though it's a cliché to describe a play as poignant - After Sarah Miles really is. The specifics of Bobeen's life as a fisherman off the west coast provide the setting, but I'd guess that everyone in the audience could relate to his sentiments.

Smock Alley's Boys' School is perhaps the best venue in the city for this style of play thanks to its distinctive interior layout; the compact floor space and high ceiling gets the audience close to the action without seeming crowded.

Conclusion: 4/5.

After Sarah Miles continues in Smock Alley Theatre until 7th June 2014, starting at 8 pm each evening and running for about 80 minutes without an interval. Tickets cost €15/€12.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Art of the Brick

My brother and I went to see the Lego Art exhibition at the Ambassador this morning.  US artist Nathan Sawaya uses Lego bricks create wonderful and unique sculptures and artwork.  Despite the Ambassador being used for an exhibition space for ages, I haven't been in there since it was a cinema (Sliding Doors, if I remember correctly!)

Tickets were a pricey €17 per adult.  But the art is amazing.  We particularly enjoyed that each blurb for each piece includes a brick count.

There's an audio guide included with the entry.  I can take or leave audio guides, since they are often too long but I'm pleased to report this one is short, snappy and to the point.  Most sculptures have a piece of audio but it's no longer than a minute.

Sawaya has copied some famous paintings and recreated them in Lego as well as creating his own compositions.  He's also done portraits of some artists including Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan.

Though my photo is blurry (no flash allowed), this lifesize sculpture a T-rex is the piece de resistance.  It has to be seen to be believed.

If it has a flaw, it's that the show is quite small.  We spent just half an hour, and went through everything twice.  Our timing would have helped.  Certainly if you're viewing the exhbition with children and later in the afternoon, I could see it taking much more time to go around, as you'd have to wait for people to clear off to see certain parts.  There's a small giftshop at the end with a lot of Lego on sale but I'd guess you would find better value around the corner in Smyths.

The Art of the Brick runs until 22nd June and tickets are available online or at the door.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Magdalen Whitewash

I attended the opening night of La Touche Players' performance of The Magdalen Whitewash by Valerie Goodwin last night in the Teachers' Club.  As you would expect, this is a mostly female cast, with strong performances from all involved.  The play spans the 1930s and 1940s and follows (in snippets) the lives of a number of women living in a Magdalen laundry, presumably in Dublin, but the nature of the organisation meant that all four corners of Ireland's accents were represented on stage.  There were some pacing issues but these will be worked out with repeat performances.  The abandoned women find a sense of home and camaraderie between the suds and sheets of the laundry.  But the real story, all too realistic is never far away, and the feeling of institutionalisation is shocking and uncomfortable.  It's a worthy but not easy watch.

The Magdalen Whitewash runs tonight and tomorrow night, then again from Tuesday 22nd - 28th April inclusive.  Performances run from 20:00, tickets cost €15.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New leaf? Try the tango!

If January didn't quite get you moving with new year's resolutions, perhaps the stretch in the evenings will tempt you.

Regular Tango Classes in Dublin with Tango Poets(Elena & Tom)

Every Monday in "The LAB"

Beginners: 6.15pm to 7.30pm
Intermediate/Advanced: 7.30pm to 9pm

Venue: The LAB 1 Foley Street - Dublin 1.
Cost: * 10€ drop in.
* take 2 classes = 1 free pass "Milonga de los Poetas" on Friday.
* take 4 classes for 32€.

Every Friday in The Elbow-Room

Tango Basics: 8pm to 9pm
Venue: The Elbow-room 32 North Brunswick Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
Cost: 10€ (milonga included).

The classes can be joined at any time Drop-In!!!

* for all ages
* no need to bring a partner
* in a friendly relaxed atmosphere
* and no previous dance experience required

Milonga de los Poetas

A place for those who long for the intimacy of the close embrace,
for those who enjoy the complicity of inviting by “mirada y cabeceo”,
for those who are thrilled by the sound of old vinylos,
for those who appreciate the joy of a flowing circulation on the dance floor.

Every Friday from 9pm to 11pm
Follow "Milonga de los POETAS - Dublin" on Facebook
in case there are any changes in the schedule!

Venue: "The Elbow-Room" 32 North Brunswick Street
Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. Admission: 5€

Thursday, January 16, 2014

4EVER BOYZ at Axis Ballymun

It's a little early to be mentioning a play on for 2 nights next month but sure there's not much to look forward to in January.  As someone I used know says, it's not that we're anti-January, we're pro-February.

4EVER BOYZ is a play (involving song and dance) about a fictional boyband who reform after 10 years, presumably because they need the money.  It played for 2 weeks last year at the Sean O'Casey in East Wall and is back for 2 nights only at Axis Ballymun next month 20 & 21 February.  Check out their youtube stuff - I smiled the whole way through.