There is something of a retrospective vibe to July. Brian Friel is seemingly the writer-in-residence at both the Abbey and the Gate this month. Molly Sweeney – “a humorous, compelling and moving drama, which tells the story of a woman, blind since infancy, who has the chance to regain her sight” – will run at the Gate while post-colonial masterpiece Translations – featuring a cast including Janet Moran (Freefall, Pineapple), Aaron Monaghan (Christ Deliver Us!, The Silver Tassie) and Denis Conway (The Gigli Concert, Penelope) – runs in the Abbey until mid August.
Also revisiting from the past is Enda Walsh’s Misterman (pictured above) – a highlight of this year’s Galway Arts Festival and also my pick of the month. This dark tale of a man on a self-appointed mission to “do the Lord’s work” in the small community of Inishfree was originally staged by Corcadorcha in 1999 starring Walsh himself. Now reworked and expanded, with Walsh on directing duties and Disco Pig Cillian Murphy cast in the role, it’s hard not to get excited about Misterman (Town Hall Theatre, Jul 7-24). This year’s festival does present a Disco Pigs reunion of sorts, as Eileen Walsh can be seen as the lone star of Corcadorcha’s arcane site-specific Request Programme (the Western Hotel, Jul 11-23). Combined, these three individuals once arrested expectations with a surrealist theatre that had little history and little inhibition. It will be interesting to catch up with them since their days tearing up ‘Pork City’.
Also at this year’s festival: Fishamble and Pat Kinevane bring the beautiful Silent to Druid Lane Theatre (Jul 12-16). Described as a “touching story of a man who, having lost his possessions and his mind, now dives into the wonderful wounds of his past through the romantic world of Rudolph Valentino” has been well-received thus far this year. Representing the international contingent in the festival, England’s Paines Plough and Drum Theatre present Love, Love, Love at the Town Hall (Jul 12-16) – a play about a young couple who on the night the Beatles sing All You Need Is Love – the first live global TV event – realise that the world is changing, and they want a part of it. Fresh from a sell-out run at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, Mephisto will be staging Tara McKevitt’s P.J. O’Connor-winner Grenades (Jul 11-16), while comedy duet Electric Bridget will present their new piece Chat Show (Jul 18-23), both at Nun’s Island Theatre. Side-Show Productions’ new piece King Alfred: A Mystery Play – an exploration of “history” using the filming of MGM’s King Alfred The Great in Galway as an anchor – will be at NUI Galway’s Bank of Ireland theatre Jul 5 and 8. Also worth checking out is G Loves T – an online Romeo & Juliet treasure hunt/puzzle in which participants engage with Galway city in order to bring two lovers together. The game runs from Jul 4-23. Participation is free. Learn more and join here: http://www.galwaylovestheatre.com/g-loves-t
Elsewhere in the country, the Dundonald Association of Music and Drama bring The Laramie Project to the Lyric in Belfast (Jul 26-27). Originally composed by America’s Tectonic Theater Project, this play examines the aftermath of the murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming, which would eventually pave the way for homophobic violence to be recognised as a ‘hate crime’ under U.S. legislation. Wicked Angels’ hilarious Waiting For IKEA comes to the Riverbank in Newbridge Jul 15-16 but not before a stint at Draíocht in Blanchardstown Jul 7-9. I saw the show a few years ago and it was highly entertaining.
This month also heralds the return of Rough Magic. Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite is a comedy about three very different couples facing crucial moments in their lives – all set in the same room in New York’s world-famous Plaza Hotel. This triad of stories allows the alumni of Rough Magic’s SEEDS mentorship programme to get to work as directors Aoife Spillane-Hinks (Boston Marriage), Matt Torney (The Walworth Farce, The New Electric Ballroom), and Sophie Motley (Pilgrims of the Night) are given this group assignment, which runs at Dun Laoghaire’s Pavillion Theatre Jul 13-30. Over in the Focus theatre, Fregoli’s fierce production of Raymond Scannell’s Breathing Water runs from Jul 18-19. Finally, Fishamble have an exciting new project at the Project Arts Centre. The End of the Road (Jul 19-22) takes its audience to Fishamble Street to tell the life story of Bill, who is currently a patient at St Francis Hospice, Raheny.
So, what is everybody thinking of going to?