Where to start, where to start? The theme of April 2011 seems to be contemporary writing.
First off: there are four nationwide-touring productions written by acclaimed contemporary voices at the go at the moment. Fishamble bring Sebastian Barry’s award-winning The Pride of Parnell Street – “a series of intercutting monologues [in which] Janet and Joe chart the intimacies of their love and the rupturing of their relationship. An intimate, heroic tale of ordinary and extraordinary life on the streets of Dublin” – to Siamsa Tíre, Tralee (Apr 27-28); and Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise (Apr 30) before more dates next month. Fresh from a successful run in the Bush Theatre in London, Tall Tales Theatre bring Deirdre Kinahan’s Moment – a play about an Irish man’s homecoming to his family after serving a prison sentence – will be in Draíocht, Blanchardstown (Apr 6); Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray (Apr 8-9); Civic Theatre, Tallaght (Apr 12-16); Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (Apr 20-21); and Town Hall Theatre, Galway (Apr 26-30). Dermot Bolger’s new play The Parting Glass is a sequel to his 1990 play In High Germany, which told the story of three young Irish men and their decisions to emigrate. Bolger brings one of those men back in The Parting Glass, returning home to a post-boom Ireland. The play runs at the Project Arts Centre until Apr 16, and then heads to the Riverbank for Apr 21. Lastly, Decadent Theatre’s production of The Quare Land – “a hilarious Celtic Tiger parable” in which a man negotiates from his bathtub with a NAMA developer to sell his field – will be at the Riverbank Apr 17.
My pick of the month is the play reading of Thomas Kilroy’s Blake – a new play about romanticist William Blake – at the Samuel Beckett Theatre Apr 30. Personally, I think Kilroy is the best playwright in the country, capable of capturing the cultural consciousness of a given moment in history with sweet and brutal poetic sensitivity, as seen in the likes of Talbot’s Box and Christ Deliver Us!. Furthermore, his depictions of real life individuals such as wartime apostles Brendan Bracken and William Joyce (Double Cross), Oscar Wilde’s wife Constance (The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde) and his lover and poet Lord Alfred Douglas (My Scandalous Life)have been rather brilliant, and thus it is with great assurance that Blake should be something special. The reading takes place as part of a two day ‘Across the Boundaries: Talking about Thomas Kilroy’ event in Trinity College Dublin, Apr 29-30, where you can go to a few talks free admission. Irish veteran director Patrick Mason, who has brought to stage the greatest Irish plays of the last half a century, and who previously staged Kilroy’s Talbot’s Box and The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde, is helming the reading. Tickets are available from the Abbey box office for a super reasonable 6 euro!
Lynne Parker of Rough Magic gusto brings Finegan Kruckemeyer’s acclaimed The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly (Apr 12-30, pictured above) to the Abbey’s Peacock stage (which has been home to some exciting productions as of late). Louis Lovett sings as the gloriously off-key Peggy O’Hegarty, who takes off on an imaginatively inventive adventure to save the day. Child-friendly and tickets available at the Abbey-cheap price of 15 euro (10 concession).
Meanwhile in the West, Galway ensemble Mephisto bring Tara McKevitt’s P.J. O’Connor winner Grenades (Apr 12-16) to the Town Hall as part of this year’s Cuirt Festival of Literature. McKevitt’s play about a young girl’s experiences living in Northern Ireland is not only incredibly funny and bittersweet, but also ascends political or retrospective pit-traps. Definitely worth a look.
Drogheda’s Calipo Theatre Company bring Philip McMahon’s (one half of the fantastic THISISPOPBABY) new play Pineapple to the Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Apr 29-May 1. The story about two Ballymun youths is described as a “tough and tender drama about love and survival” and is performed by an impressive cast including Janet Moran (Freefall, No Romance) and Nick Lee (Delirium, The Passing).
Talking Shop Ensemble present I Am a Homebird (It’s Very Hard) at the Project Arts Centre until Apr 16. The play’s focus is on the current rate of young Irish people having no choice but to emigrate. Along with The Parting Glass,the Project Arts Centre is currently a site of disposition about the trends of emigration going on in the present.
As for older texts: productions of Lorca’s Blood Wedding (Apr 18-20) and Peter Pan(s) (Apr 19-21) also take to the Project Arts Centre. Four of Beckett’s short plays (Beckett x4) come to the Focus Theatre, Dublin (Apr 11-23). An impressively-cast production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof celebrates the centenary of Tennessee Williams in the Gate all month. And finally, the Abbey present their first ever rendition of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (Apr 27-Jun 11). Is it strange that the Abbey have not done Pypmalion before now (they do describe it as Shaw’s “most popular play)? This comedy is a ‘Taming of the Shrew’-style story about a linguistics professors efforts to turn an impoverished flower girl into a lady under the pretence of a bet.
Also: if you are interested in donating to the Arts, toddle on to fundit.ie and give a couple of bob towards Brokentalkers’ The Blue Boy and THISISPOPBABY’s The Year of Magical Wanking.