With ceaseless touring productions, three performance festivals, and two renovated venues; May is one very busy month for theatre.
We’ll start with the Abbey. Pygmalion has mustered many good reviews since starting its run. George Bernard Shaw’s comedy is a ‘Taming of the Shrew’-style story about a linguistics professor’s efforts to turn an impoverished flower girl into a lady under the pretence of a bet. The production runs until June 11. It will be accompanied by Perve on the Peacock stage from May 25 – the last instalment of the Abbey’s quartet of new plays this year. Concept-wise, Gregg’s play always sounded to me to be the most intriguing of the four – an overambitious film student and his controversial project that will “question his idealism and turn his life and that of his family upside down”.
Across town, The Beauty Queen of Leeane runs at the Gaiety May 11-June 4. Martin McDonagh’s devilish comedy is about a lonely middle-aged spinster and her manipulative mother. Beauty Queen has been on the go for fifteen years now, and with numerous awards under its belt, I’m sure this production will maintain the play’s acclaim with Rosaleen Linehan and Derbhle Crotty heading the cast.
My pick of the month is Pineapple at Axis Ballymun May 11-14. The play is an occasion in itself, as it unites Irish talents such as writer Philip McMahon (Alice in Funderland, All Over Town), director David Horan (Moment), and great performers such as Janet Moran (Freefall, No Romance), Nick Lee (Delirium, DruidSynge) and Caoilfhionn Dunne (10 Dates With Mad Mary, Christ Deliver Us!). McMahon’s play about the community in the Ballymun Flats is darkly comic and sweetly disarming (my review of it will be up shortly).
Dublin Dance Festival is the only festival in the country that promotes contemporary dance, and it would be worthwhile to check out their programme. Highlights this year include Jerome Bell’s Cédric Andrieux at the Samuel Beckett (May 18-19), which is a documentary-style piece that looks at the life of dancer Cédric Andrieux, and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan’s Songs of the Wanderers (pictured above) at the Grand Canal (May 26), the performers of which are described as the “most extraordinary dancers in all of Asia”. Irish dance companies are also put to work. David Bolger of Coisceim brings his mother-son duet Swimming With My Mother to Roscommon Arts Centre (May 10), Backstage Theatre Longford (May 12), and the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire (May 14). Aerial sensations Fidget Feet bring their new performance Catch Me & Hang On to Glór Arts Centre Ennis (May 17), Draíocht in Blanchardstown (May 19), Belltable in Limerick (May 21), Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise (May 25), and Backstage Theatre Longford (May 27).
Fishamble’s production of Sebastian Barry’s The Pride of Parnell Street finishes at the Pavilion May 7, and is then heading to An Grianán in Letterkenny (May 10-11), Glór in Ennis (May 13-14), Backstage Theatre in Longford (May 17-18), Town Hall Theatre in Galway (May 20), and the Helix in DCU (May 24-28). Fringe 2010 Little Gem winner Fight Night runs in Bewley’s Cafe Theatre May 9 -June 11. Gavin Kostick’s play charts the comeback of a failed amateur boxer played by Aonghus Óg McAnally (who picked up the Best Actor award for the role at the Fringe). Raymond Scannell’s brilliant Mimic comes to the Cork Opera House May 17-20.
Over in Galway, the rebranded Studio THT in the Town Hall Theatre is home to the JOLT initiative – a pilot programme of new work with an emphasis on supporting emerging theatre artists and curating dialogues between artists and audiences as well as industry professionals. This week Sarah Griffin’s Sleep Skips My Heart was on. Next week it will be Waterdonkey’s The Very Best of John Lennon – fresh from a performance at the THE THEATRE MACHINE TURNS YOU ON Vol. II in the Project Arts Centre in February, Waterdonkey take their “exploration of identity, performance, peace, love, and Wikipedia” through the medium of ‘Lennon’ to Studio THT May 11-14. Dodo Theatre bring The Pump – a devised piece that uses abstract theatre forms and incorporates live music and visual art about “two lovers stuck at the end of oblivion” – runs in Studio THT May 18-21. Speaking of refurbished venues, the newly rebuilt Lyric Theatre in Belfast has reopened its doors with Conall Morrison’s production of The Crucible , which runs until June 5.
The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is underway. This week (May 9-14): The Tempermentals, which tells the story of the two men who founded the first gay rights organisation runs at the Teachers Club; Irish director Michael Scott brings his play about love – One – to the Project Arts Centre; the audience participative Bang Shoot Blast is at the Back Loft at La Catedral Studios (I hear there’s wine and cake); and New York theatre troupe Wolf 359 bring Righteous Money – a story of how an “insanely rich TV provocateur takes on the tanking economy” – to the Project Arts Centre.
A new version of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts by Frank McGuinness comes to the Town Hall Theatre Galway May 17-18. Mick Donnellan’s Sunday Morning Coming Down has its succession to the Town Hall’s main stage May 28 after a sold out run in Studio THT in March.
Finally: the Bealtaine Festival will be celebrating creativity in older age throughout the month. Highlights of this year’s programme include Christian O’Reilly’s Here We Are Again Still, inspired by the playwright’s engagements with the senior residents of Walter Macken Place in Mervue, Galway. Mary McEvoy performs in Alice Barry’s Fruitcake, which is part drama part cookery demonstration. Dates for both shows can be found at the Bealtaine website.
What are you going to see?