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The Government Inspector at the Abbey Theatre (Review)

Jimmy Fay’s version of The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui was one of the highlights of the past few years at the Abbey, so seeing the director handle Nokolai Gogol’s The Government Inspector is an interesting premise. While Fay handles the play wonderfully well, with a (mostly) solid cast and superb staging choices, I can’t help but feel that Roddy Doyle’s translation of the play is just a bit “on the nose”, striving for a bit of forced relevance with countless references to “brown paper envelopes.” Perhaps the best indication of the show comes from the wonderful inset in the programme, illustrated in a pleasant enough style by Irish Times cartoonist M. Turner – a mock-up cut-out selection that includes mock-up heads of Bertie Ahern and Charlie Haughey. One senses that the production might have had a bit more bite a few years back.

Family values...

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Non-Review Review: The Offence

The Offence was reportedly one of the pictures that MGM agreed to fund for Sean Connery in order to get the veteran actor to sign on to reprise the role of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. While the film is too slow, methodical and restrained to really qualify as an undisputed classic, I do sleep just a little bit better for knowing that something good came from Connery signing on to play Bond once more. (Although, to be fair, he also donated his salary to charity, so that speaks to his character as well.)

Gripping drama...

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Non-Review Review: The Tempest

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Julie Taymor’s Titus. It was a punk rock adaptation of perhaps Shakespeare’s trashiest play, and it was a fusion which just worked. The Tempest, on the other hand, is a very different beast. Far from being one of the Bard’s more easily forgotten plays, it has been one of his most highly regarded since its revival in the nineteenth century. It is, despite some outward cynicism, a far more optimistic and (dare I say it?) lighter piece than the orgy of death and destruction in Titus Andronicus. So Taymor’s skills aren’t quite as perfectly in step as they might be. That said, she’s still a remarkable director with a keen visual sense, and the movie manages to be engaging and entertaining, despite a few missteps.

It's a kinda magic...

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Arcadia at the Gate Theatre

Arcadia is great. It’s a wonderfully dense, witty work from writer Tom Stoppard. The Gate production is, as one would expect, top notch, and the play seems to suit the surroundings of the theatre, with its lavish set design and production values. Whether you’re looking to wrap your head around something stimulating, or simply looking for an entertaining night at the theatre, you could do a lot worse than Arcadia.

Don't worry, he doesn't lay the maths on too hard...

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MacBeth at the Abbey Theatre

Myself and the better half had the pleasure of taking in a show in the national theatre last night. Director Jimmy Fay has brought Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the play known in the industry as “the Scottish play”, to the stage. I studied MacBeth in secondary school, as one of the big four tragedies. I would have rather studied Othello or Hamlet, but at least it wasn’t King Lear. We had high hopes in settling into our seats for the full performance – Fay had brought The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui to the stage only last year in a show that remains perhaps my favourite of all the plays I have seen at the Abbey. Did MacBeth live up to those expectations?

"Something wicked this way comes..."

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Non-Review Review: Redbelt

You have to admit that the premise, at least, is intriguing. Maybe the execution is less so, but the basic premise (a martial arts movie directed by maestro wordsmith David Mamet) deserves at least a little consideration. In fairness, the movie plays its cards pretty well. It’s populated with kind of deceit and self-deceit which we have come to expect from the characters which Mamet presents to us on a regular basis. It’s a grim and dark and seedy world, even underneath those bright lights. The problem is that the movie’s core appeal (articulated in its title, premise and marketing) of a martial arts movie simply cannot deliver in that environment. These two facets of the movie lock themselves in mortal combat like two prize fighters in the ring: Mamet’s cynicism and human drama facing off against the requisite showiness and razzle-dazzle of martial arts. At one point a character suggests that the money is in a draw (since a rematch is a huge moneyspinner), and maybe that’s why we get no winner here. We don’t even get an entertaining struggle.

The blows come as quick as the dialogue and are almost as sharp...

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Freefall (Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival)

It has been a while since I’ve worn my ‘theatre reviewer’ hat, but I’m blowing the cobwebs off on this one. My girlfriend is a huge fan of the Corn Exchange theatre group and we decided to give their new work, playing as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, a go. I’ve had very mixed luck when it comes to seeing performances in the project theatre, and while I was quite impressed with the technical aspects of the play – I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing.

Not quite a stroke of genius...

Not quite a stroke of genius...

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