The desire to be seen handling the affairs of the day has taken our national theatre down some pretty lame alleys this year. From Thomas Kilroy’s plodding Christ Deliver Us, where a litany of sins were exploited rather than explained to the Porter’s speech in Macbeth, bastardised to include references to bankers, priests and politicians, all was forgiven during the Darkest Corner series in the Peacock with Roisin McBrinn’s excellent piece of verbatim theatre No Escape( a staging of the Ryan Report) and Sophie Motley’s reading of This Evidence I Shall Give providing two of the most disturbing, affecting and invigorating nights of theatre I’ve had all year.

Unfortunately their current production, a Frank McGuiness translation of Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman is a step backwards, all ohhh( the star wattage) and aaaaaahhh( Tom Pye’s stunning set) with little actual umph provided by either.

Read the rest of this entry »

People’s enjoyment of Carmel Winters’ B for Baby which runs at the Peacock till November 5th will depend on what  demands they place on their theatre. Some will see it as a missed opportunity, a chance to properly explore the sexual rights of the intellectually disabled passed up too lightly. And they will be right, for there can be no doubting that here it is used here  solely as a plot device. Others will applaud the Abbey for their bravery in staging such a dark, noncommercial piece of theatre that deals with such heady adult themes( the reproductively challenged and the way society views childless couples). While most will applaud the strong playing from Michelle Moran and Louis Lovett, Sabine Dagent’s nurseyesque set and Mikel Murfi’s subtle direction. I myself consider it to be an imperfect piece of theatre that engaged me, concerned me and humored me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pan Pan’s Rehearsal, Playing the Dane is a wonderful if wasteful production, what could have been eclipsing what was but most certainly a worthy watch for those with a taste for contemporary art challenging the conventions of classic theatre.
Read the rest of this entry »

No Child… @The Axis

October 20, 2010

There’s no new ground broken in No Child… a tragic-comic classroom drama, a genre that has been done to delightful death, most recently in movies such as Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. It charts a teacher artist’s attempt to dissect and direct Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Countries Good with a class of unruly 10th graders, only one of whom has a father and 99% of whom have been sexually, physically or mentally abused.

Read the rest of this entry »

ENRON@ The Gaiety Theatre

October 20, 2010

Many reasons have been bandied about for ENRON’s failure to set Broadway alight. Some have blamed the ‘Poisoned Pen’ of New York Time’s theatre critic Ben Brantley, who said that Lucy Preebles’ exploration of financial smoke and mirrors was little more than smoke and mirrors itself; The Guardian noted the failure of all such hyper theatrical productions since Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; while the Telegraph tried to pass it off as American sensitivity to having their story told by the Brits. Famed and usually able minded Michael Billington suggested that the TONY’s (for not giving it more nominations), the Taliban (for plotting to bomb Time’s Square) and the plays American cast (for-ALARM BELLS- not being good enough). Having seen the show myself my own conclusion is that it is the
production- rather than any performer- that’s guilty of the latter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Orphans Preview

October 7, 2010

How far will you go for someone you love? What are you prepared to do? How much of a dark side is there in a human being and what needs to happen to bring that out in us? These are the issues explored in Dennis Kelly’s award winning Orphans which opens at The Focus Theatre October 7th.

Read the rest of this entry »

CIRCA@ The Gaiety Theatre

October 7, 2010

Come worship the body beautiful at the Gaiety Theatre. Not only as an object of fornication but as an instrument through which greatness can be achieved; a machine capable of wondrous acts and as something to be admired for its form.

Read the rest of this entry »

The curtain rises on the second act of Druid’s production of Sean O Casey’s The Silver Tassie with a massive cannon emerging from the smoke. On the rain drenched stage the cast of characters-those wretches of the earth- lie crumpled before a gargantuan tank. Slinking and sliding above them is a Smigel like Aaron Monaghan who begins his haunting ode as the men below come to life via some remarkable choreography. It’s chilling, affecting and utterly unforgettable.

Read the rest of this entry »

When I asked composer Ellen Cranitch and playwright Hillary Fannin to define their current production, Phaedra, as either a play with music or a musical with words they said they couldn’t as they were unsure as to what it was themselves. I thought it was avoidance, to bypass pegging which might avert potential audiences. But having seen it for myself I now understand that what they have done is create something quite different. The music is no longer something to tart up those dreaded awkward scene changes, nor is it an excuse for the cast to break away from the spoken word and fill in the plot with a joyous bout of song and dance. It massages the story, is a character in itself, used to set the mood or reiterate what’s just been said through the angelic odes of the siren like chorus. But it is in unison with Hillary Fannin’s script not apart from it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Phaedra

October 5, 2010

What started out as a germ of an idea over a bottle of wine between the artistic director of Rough Magic Lynne Parker and composer Ellen Cranitch has found its way onto the Project Arts Centre’s main stage as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. A contemporary take on the Phaedra fable, where the titular character falls in love with her stepson with devastating results, everyone from Sarah Kane to Eastenders has sourced it. What is the aim of this latest inspiration? Composer Cranitch and writer Hillary Fannin speak to Totally Dublin.

Read the rest of this entry »