Going back to our roots

November 5, 2013

As the Halloween season begins many Irish people continue the traditions passed down to them from one generation to the next, of dressing up like slutty nurses and firing bangers at the neighbour’s dog.

For thousands of Irish Pagans (3,000 on the last census), however, it’s the start of a new year, taking place on the night that the veil between this life and the next life is at its thinnest.

Originally Published in the Irish Examiner

Music City!

November 5, 2013

Something is seriously remiss. It’s 4am and I’m trembling like the ‘scraggy wee shits’ in Seamus Heaney’s The Early Purges before Dan Taggart pitched them into a bucket. It could be the cold, the coffee or the time that has me this way, but I’m leaning towards fury, the music from a wedding in my supposed 4 star hotel keeping me conscious as the clock ticked down to my early rise. Instead of counting sheep, I’m pumping rounds of imaginary bullets into the DJ as Gangham Style morphs into The Harlem Shake, The Girls of Belfast City stomp relentlessly into the Fields of Athenry, and as Single Ladies become Baby Boys -my temper and a Beyoncé mega mix reaching their crescendo, my alarm chimes in. It’s time to rise.

It’s the Summer Solstice and I’m in Derry to review Music City! a celebration of music that takes place from dawn on Friday till dawn on Saturday as part of the cities year-long role as the UK’s City of Culture.

But as I drive through the back roads of Inis Owen I’d be happy never to hear another note again. Ditching the car at the bottom of a hill we climb in darkness to Grianán of Aileach, a ring fort in County Donegal. It used to be the seat for the High King’s O’Neill from the 5th century. This morning it’s the launch site for the day’s festivities, the Inisowen Gospel Choir providing a Dawn Chorus.
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Following Many Roads

November 5, 2013

Most actors will relate to that awkward feeling one gets when their parents come to watch them perform. But for Shane O Reilly, the Child of Deaf Adults(CODA), it was only after he conceived his one man show Follow, that his own parents got to appreciate the true depth of his art. A series of vignettes inspired by incidents from O’Reilly’s own life- and others shared by members of Dublin’s Deaf Community, the show contains a brand new style that aims to communicate stories to both a deaf and hearing audience at the same time.
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Puerperal Psychosis

November 5, 2013

As soon as she had her second child, Sharon Gaffney was ready for the next one. She didn’t know what horror she was about to experience.
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In the salient days of my youth when asked to chose between Blur and Oasis I always chose the path paved by Girl Power. I drew a line at donning the Union Jack and Buffalo Boots but I did own everything they ever recorded, travelled abroad to see them(twice) and in my mid twenties moved into a house for the sole purpose that Victoria Beckham exited it in the Stop video. So when it was announced that Judy Craymer, the producer of Mama Mia would be fashioning a musical out of their biggest hits with a book from Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders you can bet I was interested. After all, jukebox musicals can be a gas…if you check your cynicism and standards at the door.
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The great joy of award show season is how arbitrary the whole process is. With the Irish Times Theatre Awards, three judges witnessed 150 plays and then whittled down a short list of four nominees per category (12 in total). The results will have culture vultures doing a little dance and pitching a little fit as they peck through the spoils but, like dogs with a bone, they’ll gnaw away at it, savouring the opportunity to indulge in any theatrical debate thrown their way.

Originally Published on entertainment.ie

One of the great joys of end of year lists is scratching at the ground like frustrated hens over personal favourites the compiler has excluded, clucking about why one album/show/panty flash was picked at the expense of another. I myself have sat in front of my smart phone/lap top/ newspaper squawking and flapping my wings at selections I have found to be sycophantic, unimaginative and a celebration of ideas rather than achievements. So set your wings to flutter. For here’s my own end of year list, the top ten shows of 2012, in my humble, grouchy opinion.

Originaly published on entertainment.ie

Michael Caine once said; ‘I’m a skilled, professional actor. Whether I have any talent is beside the point.” While there are plenty of actors who work regularly in this country and keep the audience and critics cooing, the ones that do well by their craft are the ones that use their performance to add to the life force of a play, not use it as a weapon to pull plaudits down upon themselves. The actors praised here managed to remember that they have a responsibility to the playwright’s intent. That a part isn’t a series of big moments but a journey they must make an audience experience . They don’t just give us fireworks but show us what sets them off. Theatre should be a transforming experience and, for me, these are the performers who best shaped my world in 2012.

Originally Published on entertainment.ie

Denzel’s ma had a saying. ‘Man gives the award, God gives the reward’. So the lord our saviour will have to work over time to avenge the slights served in the nominations for the Irish Times Theatre Awards. If ever there was a list that exposed how subjective these things can be its the anointed cream of this years crop. Judges Sinéad Mac Aodha, John Fairleigh and Damian Downes picked from over 160 shows and while most bases were covered there was also much there to make eyebrows arch and eyeballs bulge.
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They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And so it is with perceptions of your sanity. When Dana, a primary school teacher assaults a pupil, she is sent to Ingrid, a drama therapist to save her job. But as the session unfolds it becomes apparent that Dana is not the only one on the brink of a break down and using the tricks of the drama therapists trade- dolls, puppets and role play, the true natures of the characters are revealed in moments ranging from tender to manic.
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