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Peer Gynt by Rough Magic (Review)

Peer Gynt can be a daunting play to put on. Running at five hours, it’s a show that tests your audience’s bladder control at least as much as their patience. Still, it’s one of those absolutely wonderful fantasy stories that demands retelling and reimagining, with a wonderfully raw quality to it as it is passed down and filtered through countless interpretations. Rough Magic have produced a rather wonderful version of the story as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, playing at Belvedere College. It an impressive and engaging take on a classic story, working off a new version by writer Arthur Riordan.

Peerless?

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Donka: A Letter to Chekhov at the Gaiety (Review)

Donka: A Letter to Chekhov is a rather wonderful addition to the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. Between this and the Absolut Fringe, theatre-lovers have been quite spoilt of late – I’m still looking forward to checking out Peer Gynt by Rough Magic in the next week or so. Donka: A Letter to Chekhov is a rather wonderful and imaginative little show loosely connected by vignettes inspired by or related to the works of Anton Chekhov, as written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca, who also wrote and directed Corteo for Cirque de Soliel. It’ really rather wonderful and magical.

All going accordian to plan...

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Man of Valour at the Absolut Dublin Fringe (Review)

If you see one show at the Dublin Fringe, see Man of Valour. If you see two shows, see Man of Valour twice. If you see three shows… well, maybe you should see something else the third time, for variety’s sake. Man of Valour is easily one of the most energetic and exciting pieces of theatre I’ve seen all year, with superb direction and a fantastically impressive leading man, it really feels like the lovechild of a one-man show with a big-budget action movie.

A man-ic performance...

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Meme of the Moment: Double Feature Blog-A-Thon… or why I should never be allowed to run a cinema…

Hey, I was invited to take part in the latest movie blogger meme by the wonderful Marc over at Go, See, Talk. The idea is to pretend you run a movie theatre and schedule a week of double-bills for that cinema. There are no other rules, save for the fact that you run a triple-feature on Sunday. So I peered into an alternate universe where I was allowed any sort of responsibility, and came back with a handy brochure for Cine-Moi, the exclusive high-end movie theatre experience that my alternate self has somehow bamboozled his way into running (not into the ground… so far). Let’s see what a typical movie schedule might look like.

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Blood Brothers at the Gaiety (Review)

Blood Brothers, as written by Willy Russell, is one of the most enduring musicals in the world. An institution on the West End since 1988 (where it is still playing to this day), the relatively simple but poignant story of two brothers separate at birth but drawn together by fate clearly has a powerful popular appeal. It’s easy to see why with the run currently playing at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, featuring Rebecca Storm returning to the role that made her a star, giving a powerhouse performance in a top-notch production.

Blood money...

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The Passing at the Abbey Theatre (Review)

The Passing is one of the new plays from Paul Mercier playing at the Abbey, alternating with Mercier’s other new work, East Pier. The Passing is essentially a story about how disconnected we’ve grown as a nation, out of touch with one another, and our roots. It’s the type of reflection that one sees frequently these days, so it seems reasonable to expect any material covering the theme to try to approach it in a novel or an interesting way. Instead, The Passing is just about passable as an exploration of social isolation in 21st century Ireland.

Pass on this one?

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Interview: Grace Dyas of THEATREclub

I had a chance to talk to Grace Dyas on Friday evening during rehearsals for her show HEROIN, which will be playing at axis, Ballymun from next Thursday (you can get more info here). Grace is a third of the theatre company known as THEATREclub, which she co- founded in November 2008. The group found huge success bringing one of her earlier plays, ROUGH, to Ballymun last year. With HEROIN winning the “Spirit of the Fringe” award at ABSOLUT FRINGE  last year, and Grace picking up the Fishamble New Writing Award for ROUGH the year before, I think it’s safe to say that the company’s energy is only matched by their ability.

Jumping the Sharks at the Smock Alley Theatre

Jumping The Shark is the moment when an established show changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realise that the show has finally run out of ideas. It has reached its peak, it will never be the same again, and from now on it’s all downhill.

tvtropes.org

Jumping the Sharks is a small, quirky play. Essentially a one-man one-act play following the triumph and decline of a Hollywood big shot as he waits in what must be limbo while outlining the seven core stories, it banks a lot on the central performance of Don Wycherley. Wycherley, an actor you might recognise from Perrier’s Bounty or Sweeney Todd, gives the play his all as former television executive and now dearly departed Nick Cross, managing to seem a convincing and charming conversationalist on a sparse stage. His delivery is truly impressive, inviting the audience to overlook some of the sleight of hand the play uses, and helping the hour breeze by.

Swimming with sharks...

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John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre

The Abbey is very much selling Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Henrik Ibsin’s John Gabriel Borkman as a timely piece of work. Set during a recession and focusing on a former banker who has managed to avoid squalor by assuring his property ends up in the hands of his sister-in-law (though she bought it at auction rather than the fact he assigned it to her), it is an easy enough sell in modern Ireland. However, the play’s themes are much more universal than that – it’s a story about our attempts to live vicariously through others and attempt to define ourselves contrary to whatever plans those around us might have, a reflection on how easily and readily we construct elaborate cages for ourselves (but cages that we insist are actually throne rooms). However, the main draw to this theatrical run – and perhaps the factor behind its near-constantly sold-out status – is a lead performance from Alan Rickman as the eponymous banker-turned-outcast.

Cool...

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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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