With many of the country’s greatest theatre acts taking off these days to tackle America with Culture Ireland’s ‘Imagine Ireland’ scheme, Dublin theatre audiences appear to have been left at the mercy of oestrogen-empowered comedies such as Calendar Girls in the Grand Canal or Adele King’s Grumpy Old Women in the Gaiety. While these large-scale, internationally-toured productions are sure to bring in the big bucks, there are a lot of local performances to be excited about also. Indeed, February 2011 can be characterised as a month of Irish theatre where the parents have gone away on business and the kids are now out to play.
One may have Fringe déjà-vu with Gavin Kostick’s The Sit (Best Male Performance nominee ABSOLUT Fringe 2010) on the menu at Bewley’s (Feb21-Mar12) and the line-up of players at THEATREclub’s ‘The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Volume II’ festival (pictured above) at the Project Arts Centre (Feb15-19). Check out the programme on the Project website, it is jammed with wild and relevant motions ranging from recessionary fallout to John Lennon and Tom Stoppard infused ballads to live art electro trash bands. My personal hitlist for ‘Theatre Machine Vol.II’:
1. Nyree Yergainharsian’s one-woman show Where Do I Start?, which invites her audience to help her invent her identity (Yergainharsian may be recognizable as the girl in The Company’s As You Are Now So Once Were We who “wakes up in Howth”).
2. THEATREclub debut their new production The Family, which takes a look at the contemporary Irish nuclear family.
3. Devious Theatre, who recently started an artists’ residency in Kilkenny orientated towards our current economic turmoil, bring Scratcher – a show concerned with the statistics of the live register.
4. Waterdonkey Theatre’s The Very Best of John Lennon takes a look at the presence of the legendary musician in our cultural consciousness (Also: I’m performing in it. PLUG!)
Also joining this trend of new work by young voices is Nancy Harris’ No Romance (Feb23-Apr2) on the Abbey’s Peacock Stage, which is a “playful search for connection in a fractured world”. Harris is among the new playwrights in the Abbey’s employ right now, and is joined on this venture by young director superstar Wayne Jordan.
Galway company TrueWest continue their collaboration with Mark O’Halloran (Adam and Paul, Garage) with Mary Motörhead – the partner piece to last month’s The Head of Red O’Brien – at Bewley’s Lunchtime until the 19th.
Younger companies are also busy at work on the west coast with Wildebeest Theatre’s fantastical A Different Animal (Best Female Performance Award Limerick Unfringed 2011) (Feb10-12), Side-Show Productions’ probing of hallmark romance – Dreams of Love (Feb24-26), and TheatreCorp’s rendition of Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie (Feb15-19) all gracing the Town Hall Theatre, Galway.
If Calendar Girls and Grumpy Old Women are not your thing, three alternative big-scale comedies will be available throughout February.
The Gate’s God of Carnage (Feb5th onwards) is about two sets of parents and the rivalry between their children, which eventually pulls them into conflict with each other. I wouldn’t mind spending an evening with this sound cast, which includes Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Ted) and Maura Tierney (E.R.).
Druid returns from its tour of Boston and Washington with Martin McDonagh’s cruelly comic The Cripple of Inishmaan with a run at the Gaiety (Feb21st to Mar6th). I will go on the record as being not a big McDonagh fan but I have yet to see a production of Cripple so I may yet be persuaded.
Finally: the Abbey bring to Irish soil acrobat, clown, poet, magician supreme James Thiérrée (pictured below) and his solo show Raoul (Feb18-26). Thiérrée (who is a grandson of Charlie Chaplin and great-grandson of playwright Eugene O’Neill) has been onstage since the age of four and has since established a reputation as one of the world’s most extraordinary artists. In this show he plays Raoul – a man who “tumbles through a series of utopian fantasies in which acrobats, mysterious transformations, music and dance collide”. Magic.
What is everyone else thinking of seeing?