Exciting upcoming event: I Do

There is an exciting piece of site-specific theatre on at the Savoy Hotel the weekend after next, July 12 and 13, in the form of I Do.

The blurb is as follows: “Be a fly on the wall in this acclaimed site-specific jigsaw puzzle in six hotel rooms. I Do is a funny, vivid and moving exploration of life, seen through the lens of a family wedding just before a couple tie the knot.”

“Divided into groups, audiences will move through six hotel rooms and experience the same 10 minutes in a different order. Following sell out shows in London, Dante or Die’s critically acclaimed I Do runs over two nights, two shows each evening at The Savoy Hotel.”

I DoBringing the unique show to the city was the result of a collaboration between The Lime Tree Theatre, Theatre at the Savoy and The Savoy Hotel. I Do was described as “clever, funny, touching” and “meticulously crafted” by the London Evening Standard.

Please note that the performance contains nudity so audience members must be 16 or over. The shows take place 5pm and 8.30pm both evenings. Tickets €20/€16 and can be purchased here.

I love the novelty of both site specific and promenade theatre (where audience members walk or move about following the action) so I highly recommend this. I saw a superb example of site-specific theatre in a hotel in 2010 at the Belltable Unfringed Festival with Memory Deleted by Anú Productions, directed by Louise Lowe.

The main part of the production took place in one room in the Boutique Hotel in Denmark Street. Various actors came in and out of the room for scenes as several different events unfolded—showing previous occupants of this room. Several other rooms on the floor either had actors performing in them (just brief vignettes) or acted as mini-sets. The audience could wander about, peeking into rooms before the main event.

The whole experience was very voyeuristic. You never think (or perhaps try not to think) about the thousands of people who have stayed in a hotel room before you with all their stories, hopes, intentions etc. It’s immersive theatre and a bit mind bending…in a good way!

The Dante or Die production was created by co-artistic directors, Daphna Attias and Terry O’Donovan and written by Chloe Moss. The London-based company is known for using unusual spaces to create “ambitious and infectious” pieces but has also played to venues like the National Theatre in London, Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House and Theatre Royal Haymarket. Terry O’Donovan, who trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, is originally from Limerick so welcome back to him for City of Culture 2014.

If you want a bit more detail, see the official trailer for I Do below…

Review: The Bachelor of Kilkish

Irish-Barber-Sketch-1I was at the opening night of The Bachelor of Kilkish, the latest from Limerick company Bottom Dog Theatre Company, last week (June 12) in the Lime Tree Theatre.

Written by Bottom Dog co-founder and well-known actor, Myles Breen, the play is about the eponymous ‘bachelor’, Eugene (Brendan Conroy) who is a 65 year old closeted gay man who owns a barbershop in a small, seaside town. His world revolves around the shop and local goings on—chatting with regulars like hotel owner, Pat (Pascal Scott), who drops in every week for a trim and sharing cosy tea breaks with lifelong pal, Agnes (Deirdre Monaghan) and young hotel receptionist, Jacinta (Clare Monnelly).

His polite, low-key existence is shaken up when fun and flamboyantly gay young barber, Ian (Stephen Tadgh), takes a summer job at the shop. As the small-town ‘old guard’ gear up for the summer festival and the Colleen of Kilkish pageant (sher, they’re all lovely girls, ahem), the status quo is under threat and things are about to change drastically…and I’m not talking about the rearrangement of the amusement arcade!

What followed was a play that swung between hilarious and heart-breaking. It dealt with a lot of issues sensitively, such as homophobia and from the other point of view—the experience of being gay in a conservative community, hiding who you truly are and fearful of being the subject of gossip. Other subjects were unrequited love and the simultaneous comfort and claustrophobia of small-town existence.

The contrast between Eugene and Ian is as marked as the dichotomy between a small Irish seaside resort in summer and in winter. The interplay between the two was one of the highlights of the play. Conroy played shy Eugene with great poise and dignity, building towards a new assertiveness and sense of self. Tadgh injected incredible energy to nearly every scene he was in as the witty, exuberant Ian. He has a flair for comedic timing and is wonderfully expressive in the role. The scene where he lip synchs and dances to Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ is a contender for the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The whole audience was in stitches.

The two ladies played their supporting roles well. Both were vibrant in their own style and were convincing in the more morose, emotional scenes too. Pat and his son, Mike (Cillian Ó’Gairbhí) represented the more conservative, ‘conventional’ side of society but came dangerously close to being caricatures a few times. That said, there were a few very realistic incidences of classic Irishman reactions to being in close contact with a gay person very at ease with themselves. The uncomfortable exchanges had great comic realism.

The Bachelor of Kilkish is well written. Breen excels at sharp one-liners and there are many brilliantly funny moments and scenes in the play. This was a blessing and a curse I felt because when the tone shifted to more serious interludes, the audience was still laughing and it was hard to refocus. As I said, he approached the issues with innate understanding and addressed them carefully.

Final-Poster-The-Bachelor-of-Kilkish-Lime-Tree-2014For all the fun, it was terribly sad in parts too. I felt a real sense of empathy with Eugene. I couldn’t help thinking about all the others like him. The play had a good balance of light and shade in that way. It ended on a somewhat predictable, but hopeful and life affirming note.

He has a keen eye and ear for detail, making the setting seem genuine i.e. the townspeople referring to tourists as “swallows” because they fly in for a period and disappear as suddenly or the pompous, self-importance of commanding figures in local communities (we all know one or more!) spouting about reputations and brands.

There was a lot going on and director, Liam O’Brien, pulled all the elements together. The music was beautiful—making the scene transitions flow effortlessly—and the barbershop set was excellent and used in a very versatile way. The lighting was appropriately subtle.

I had a few minor problems with the play. I thought it was too long. It was pushing two hours and 30-45 minutes I’d say and I think if it could be cut back a bit, it should be because it would be the better for it. I thought the subplot involving Jacinta and Mike was drawn out, as were a few scenes generally. But these are small issues with a strong piece overall. (Note: I got a comment saying it ran for exactly 2 hrs 14 minutes with starting late and an interval overrun. I still reckon it was closer to 2 hrs 30 mins (not 45 thinking working it out in more detail). I took the delays into account and looked at my watch leaving at 11pm but I didn’t have a stopwatch. Perhaps it just went on too long in my estimation. My abiding point is: it seemed too long and dragged a bit so it could be cut back slightly. I stand by that.)

I really enjoyed The Bachelor of Kilkish and the 350 strong audience did too—showing their appreciation with a long standing ovation. Bottom Dog TC has produced some fine work since it was founded a few years ago and with limited funding.  The play was funded through the ‘Made in Limerick’ strand of City of Culture and I’m glad to say it was money well spent. Funny and touching, this quality of this production really demonstrates what they can do.

I’d recommend it. It’s showing in Kilkee this Thursday and Friday (June 19 and 20) and Friar’s Gate in Kilmallock this Saturday and Sunday (June 21 and 22).

Women in spotlight for Dance Limerick symposium this week

10304352_843987012281305_2274262923573782428_nMind in the Flesh, Female Bodies in Contemporary Performance, a three day symposium presented by Dance Limerick will run from tomorrow (Thursday May 8) to Saturday. It will focus on what it means to work as a female performance artist in a national and international context today.

The symposium will feature artists’ talks and debates, performance lectures and workshops as well as evening performances. An invited panel of national and international choreographers, performers, and dance scholars will deliver an exciting series of events to stir an exploration of female bodies in contemporary dance performance and beyond, crossing over and exchanging with other art forms and media in the process.

“As well as the performances we have programmed a series of talks and workshops that will dissect and analyse the place and space for women in contemporary dance.”

Evening performances will take place on all three nights in bot the Dance Limerick Space and the Lime Tree Theatre. Performers include David Hoyle, Liz Aggiss, Lucy Suggate, The Editta Braun Company, Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamilla Johnson-Small. The performances explore concepts of identity, gender and the female body through contemporary dance, humour and physical movement.

Workshops will take place on Friday morning at Dance Limerick with Liz Aggiss and on Saturday with Lucy Suggate. There will be talks on Friday and Saturday afternoon in the Dance Limerick Space.

Commenting on Mind in the Flesh, Dance Limerick Director, Jenny Traynor, said that “we have secured some top names to perform and talk at the symposium: Performers like Liz Aggiss and David Hoyle are loud voices who, through their work, strongly question and comment on the use and manipulation of the female body in dance”.

“As well as the performances we have programmed a series of talks and workshops that will dissect and analyse the place and space for women in contemporary dance.”

It will open at 7.30pm on May 8 in The Dance Limerick Space, with a performance of O by Alexandrina Hemsley and Jamilla Johnson-Small. A romp through the politics of identity driven by basslines, paper signs and deftly thrown shapes, O negotiates the inescapable sexualisation of the body, through multiple positions and numerous wigs. The performance will be followed by an opening reception.

1375163_840217995991540_2486449315854132050_nA symposium pass giving complete access to all events over the weekend costs €80. A symposium one day pass plus access to two performances costs €40. Single tickets can also be purchased for each performance and workshop with prices ranging from €10-16. Tickets can be purchased by contacting jenny@dancelimerick.ie or 061-467813.

For further information or a full schedule of events visit www.dancelimerick.ie

Mind in the Flesh, Female Bodies in Contemporary Dance is supported by Limerick City of Culture 2014. Dance Limerick is funded by The Arts Council and Limerick City Council.

MOYROSS to make stage premiere this week

Moyross signThe northside housing estate of Moyross will be the talk of the town this coming week with a play about its history, its people and everyday life there making its big stage debut.

Simply named MOYROSS, the piece will be performed totally by a cast of people from Moyross, who have played a central role in devising a new, original piece of theatre in conjunction with THEATREclub and the Lime Tree Theatre.

The preview show is this Wednesday (April 30) and the show will run from Thursday May 1 to Saturday May 3. Tickets are €12/15 and available from 061-774774 or www.limetreetheatre.ie.

If you’ve never been to Moyross, but only read about it in the papers, you would have a very different idea of what kind of place it is. We want to bring you there, to the real Moyross.

“This production will focus on the history of the Moyross estate, the stories and experiences from people who live there and memories from its older generations. It will illustrate the differences between people’s lives and the headlines. For the first time MOYROSS will give a voice to this rich, funny and vibrant community.”

The proposition is: “Is there as much talent in Moyross as there is under the Hollywood sign? Moyross is famous. Moyross is a brand. Who made it that way? If you’ve never been to Moyross, but only read about it in the papers, you would have a very different idea of what kind of place it is. We want to bring you there, to the real Moyross.”

Before I go into more detail about the origins and the launch etc below, I would seriously encourage people to go along and support the show. No doubt it will be entertaining and informative. But it’s also a unique and worthwhile project, which is intended to develop creative skills in the hope that more work will be created and performed within and by the community too. It is part of the Made in Limerick funding strand of Limerick City of Culture and these legacy projects are a vital part of the year.

A sign reminiscent of the Hollywood sign was erected on the green in Dalgaish Park for the launch—designed and made by local organisation, PALLS (Probation and Linkage in Limerick Scheme).

THEATREclub1_thumbTHEATREclub are a young Dublin based theatre collective founded in 2008, who “make shows about us and the people and things around us”. Founding member, Grace Dyas, explained how MOYROSS came about.

“We were here in September with our play, Heroin in the Lime Tree Theatre, and as part of that we always have two local, young performers to open the show. So we got in touch with the Garda Intervention Project and Karen there put us in touch with these two brilliant lads, Luke and Niall, who were guest stars in the play when it was on. Through spending time here [Moyross] I got really interested in the place and the difference between what my perception was at the time, my experience here and what’s in the media,” she said.

“Then I started thinking; the work we do is all about social engagement and social justice. I started thinking about the media’s role in so-called ‘areas of disadvantage’ and wouldn’t it be cool to do a piece, with people in the community, and let them tell their side of the story. We want to give people a voice to tell how they’ve experienced growing up here and living here to give a different public perception of what Moyross is all about.”

We want to give people a voice to tell how they’ve experienced growing up here and living here to give a different public perception of what Moyross is all about.”

There is a completely local cast and Grace added that there was “really good community involvement in the project so far”.

“Usually we would perform the work ourselves but none of us are performing it, we’re all just facilitating the people here to perform it. We have about 20 different groups involved with at least 4-5 in each so there are about 100 people signed up. They’ll all be on stage; the idea is to have different sections. We want to tell the history of the area as well because we have older residents involved right down to young kids.”

Shane Byrne, a fellow founding member of THEATREclub, said the experience of working in Moyross was “brilliant” and the process was primarily “to shape, not write” the piece.

“It’s a lovely community to come into as total outsiders to want to do something like this and make a show about this area. It’s very welcoming and easy to do it. It’s amazing how connected we are all of a sudden. It’s very warm and inviting, interesting and vibrant.””

We have a policy of blind faith on this project. It seems like when we want things to happen, they just happen. We’re relying on that and trusting it. We’re very confident about it. People keep thinking ‘it’s a very short amount of time’ but the amount that people are willing to give and participate is great. The uptake has been quite high. If you have all people who are willing and interested, that’s half your work done.”

DSC_0010The play is not a typical amateur production to be staged solely in the community itself—a notion not lost on Grace and Shane.

“It’s important to stage it somewhere that’s not just the school in Moyross or something. The fact that we’re putting it on a big stage in the Lime Tree is a big asset for Limerick and City of Culture,” Shane pointed out.

Grace said that staging it in the Lime Tree is “so that people from outside can have a different perspective of Moyross”.

This week, Moyross will be in the spotlight for all the right reasons.

At the launch, director of Limerick City of Culture, Mike Fitzpatrick spoke as did Louise Donlon of the Lime Tree Theatre but what stuck with me were the words of Mary Tobin, who spoke on behalf of Moyross.

Referring to the sign, she said Hollywood stars are one thing but “the real stars” are the people of Moyross. To briefly showcase some of the talented people here, 18 year old, Nathan Keane, topped proceedings off with a rap. This week, Moyross will be in the spotlight for all the right reasons.



Exciting theatre for Limerick this week

All you theatre fans out there have lots to look forward over the coming days with a variety of shows on in Limerick.

-1The Bridge Below The Town, a brand spanking new play by Pat McCabe, author of darkly comic tomes like The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, will come to the Lime Tree Theatre this Friday and Saturday nights (March 14 and 15) as part of a national tour.

McCabe describes the play as “6 parts Glenroe to 5 parts Harold Pinter”—quite possibly the most engaging proposition I’ve heard this year.

The blurb is as follows: “Love will survive us all. In this new play The Bridge Below The Town, set in the colourful, innocent world of 1950’s small-town Ireland, Golly Murray discovers this gratifying truth. Almost broken by the travails of life’s struggles, she and her husband Patsy are seen to triumph over adversity in the most extraordinary and uplifting way. From the team that brought you The Dead School comes a rollercoaster production about life, love, Butlins and Nuns who make marla men all to the beat of a classic soundtrack.”

NASC Theatre Network in association with Livin’ Dred Theatre Company produced the play and reunited McCabe with director, Padraic McIntyre. The collaboration previously spawned The Dead School, which was a stellar hit in 2010 and was nominated for three Irish Times Theatre Awards. It toured to full houses nationwide before playing at the Dublin Theatre Festival and The Tricyle Theatre, London.

The impressive cast includes: Malcolm Adams (Ripper Street, Trivia) Lorna Quinn (Fair City) Gina Moxley (Game of Thrones, Stardust, The Butcher Boy) Damian Devaney (The Clinic, Raw) Janet Moran (Trivia, Love/Hate, Breakfast on Pluto) and Catherine Walsh (Eden, Casualty, Druid Synge).

Tickets are €18/16 and I can guarantee that if you ring the box office (061-774774) and scream “I LOVE PAT MCCABE!!!!!” down the phone…you will seriously unnerve a staff member there. Maybe don’t do that but just book online at www.limetreetheatre.ie.

hera_mediumAlso available to book on the Lime Tree website/box office is Irish classic, Juno and the Paycock by Sean O’Casey—presented by the long-standing local theatre group, The Quarry Players. That is running all week nightly until Saturday (March 15) in 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable).

Directed by John Anthony Murphy, Quarry is proud to present “the richly humorous yet deeply moving classic”.

Set in a time of civil strife, a mother struggles to hold her family together against extreme poverty  and a feckless, idler husband who drinks his days away. Hope comes from an unexpected inheritance and for a time the promise of a better life seems possible. Brittle, heroic and heartbreaking, Juno Boyle is not only a woman of her time but a character that resonates still for us today. A searing indictment of social and domestic upheaval, this timeless masterpiece is not to be missed.” Tickets are €15/13.

And in case, you’ve been living in a cave (because the announcements/media saturation is too intense to ignore), the spectacular show, Fuerza Bruta, starts from this Thursday March 13 and runs until March 22 (two shows nightly for the most part). It will run in the Culture Factory, Plassey Park Road, Castletroy. The postmodern show hails from Buenos Aires and has been performed all over the world.

fuerza-bruta-2-816x1024The blurb is: “This show will astonish and amaze you. The fastest-selling show ever at London’s The Roundhouse, and playing to sold out houses around the world, Limerick will host the Irish premier of Fuerza Bruta!”

“Featuring mind-blowing visual effects that must be seen to be believed, it’s an all-standing rave of a show.  Join these outstanding performers in a foot-stomping spectacular full of sexual energy, gravity-defying stunts and moments of real wonder – a Kafkaesque suited figure bursting full throttle through a series of moving walls, figures swooping through the shadows, a watery world suspended immediately above the audience. This is an event where worlds collide, where dreams are real, and reality takes a back seat. Give in to it, let go and enjoy the ride.”

More information and booking at www.limerickcityofculture.ie. Tickets can also be purchased at 061-312802 between 9-5.30pm on weekdays. They are priced at €28/20.