Category Archives: Theatre

Theatre times: ”Show me your everything’

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The International Bar close to Dame Street was the venue for the new one act play ‘Show me your everything’ by Canadian playwright Rose Ugoalah which is playing this week. Having seen and enjoyed her short play ‘Love me Tinder’ in the same location last year, I was looking forward to this new piece. Continue reading Theatre times: ”Show me your everything’

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Theatre times: ‘Katie Roche’

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Each year in Ireland there is an event called ‘Culture night’ – an evening where museums, galleries and exhibition spaces are open late, and free for all and sundry.  Tonight was that night.

I am a lucky boy in the sense that I finish work at 4pm on a Friday and I live in the city centre. My last quarter of an hour at work was spent clicking on the website, to find cultural things to do on the way home.

The plan was simple. My bus stops at the top of O’Connell Street – I was going to try my luck at getting a backstage tour of the Gate Theatre, and mosey over to the Writers’ Museum to see if I could draw inspiration from other authors’ pain.

I arrived in town at 5pm. The lovely woman at the Gate box office told me that their event was starting at 7.30pm. Too late for my carcass.  I wandered over and investigated the Writers’ Museum which was reasonably engaging.

Then I had a brainwave. I’d head towards the Customs’ House which – for one night only – was open to the public.

En route I passed the Abbey Theatre – the national theatre of Ireland. There was a queue outside. My interest was piqued. What could this be? Continue reading Theatre times: ‘Katie Roche’

‘King Lear’ because I am classy

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Shakespeare is the godfather of the English language. Writer of plays and sonnets; inventor of words and phrases now in everyday use in the language; international man of mystery – who was he really, and how could he know the interior design of Helsingør castle in Denmark – where Hamlet is set – unless he had visited himself?

What he also is, is a man of the sixteenth century. Meaning that his classic plays can be quite difficult to follow unless you are well acquainted with his writing, or the production is staged in a manner where the explanation clear from the movement rather than just the words.

I know that Shakespeare was a genius. I know of his importance in the development of the English language. However I have never enjoyed watching his plays on stage. They are a bit too much like hard work for someone of such lightweight intellect as myself. In other words, I don’t enjoy spending 50% of my time in the theatre translating what is being spoken onstage.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I attended my old home of The Teachers’ Club last night to see Thirteenth Floor Theatre’s production of ‘Lear’ – an adaptation of ‘King Lear’ directed by Bruno Theodoro. Continue reading ‘King Lear’ because I am classy

Theatre times: ‘Drinking in America’

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My second consecutive weekend in Limerick was to start with a dose of culture. I was going to Dolan’s on the Dock Road, for the 8 p.m. performance of ‘Drinking in America’ by Eric Bogosian. It’s a one man show, produced by Bottom Dog Theatre Company.

I was attending with a friend from home. Or so I thought.

Dolans’ is an amazing venue, comprising of four separate spaces – the pub which does a smashing meal; the Warehouse which is the large live music venue out back; the Kasbah Social Club which is the club space; and Upstairs – a more intimate performance space. The latter was the venue for this evening’s entertainment. It’s got a supper club kind of vibe – where you can watch music or theatre, seated at a table while drinking a big bag of cans – or rather a glass of beer poured from the tap by the barman in the venue.

Arriving about fifteen minutes before showtime, my clever-phone buzzed. A message of despair and apology. Well I guess I’d be seeing the show on my own then. No harm – if you can’t enjoy your own company then how are you meant to enjoy other people’s.

I flounced to the bar and ordered a pint of Hophouse.

As I was waiting a gentleman close by, smiled at me. I smiled back. How friendly people are in Limerick, I thought to myself. He approached me and said ‘hello’.

Slightly confused I said ‘hello’ back. That’s a bit too friendly, I thought.

‘Are you the person I arranged to meet?’ he asked.

The penny dropped. He was on a gay blind date. Probably arranged on Grindr. And I must have looked vaguely like his date.

I gave him a quick once over. Quite presentable. For a brief moment I thought of replying: ‘Why yes I am. Let’s  go see this play then.’

Before this could happen, some other bounder approached, tapped my potential suitor on the shoulder, and introduced himself. He looked nothing like me. Clearly this Grindr introduction had been made through the exchange of torso photos. Looking sheepish they practically sprinted away from me. Understandable. I was the other man, even though I had no knowledge or intention of being this.

Forlornly I climbed the stairs and found a suitable seat – good view of the stage, but not sitting like an obvious sore thumb in the middle of the room.

The stage was already set. Jazzy music playing in the background. A guitar player (Steve Ryan) strumming his instrument on the stage.

The lights dimmed, the compere showed us the emergency exits and instructed us to turn off our phones.

The actor made his way to the stage. The show began.

It’s a play that was written in the 1980s and it concerned the impact of booze and drugs on twelve individual characters in that greedy decade. From an industrial ceramic tile salesman, chatting up a prostitute at a sales convention in Texas; to the homeless guy shouting at passersby in New York while lying about his imaginary wealthy lifestyle; to the snooty British actor playing the all American hero in a beer advert; to the coke and booze addled agent doing deals for actors and producers from his LA apartment. To many more.

Liam O’Brien played all the characters, switching an item of costume or prop, to indicate a scene change. The talented guitarist provided the soundtrack to each segment (a bit too loudly at the beginning but that’s a minor quibble – I don’t like to strain, to hear because I am as lazy as sin.)

The pieces were all interesting in their own way. Some seemed slightly dated for the year 2017 – the 1980s mobile phone looked like a cement block; Richard Chamberlain mentioned as a heterosexual leading man?

Others seemed current – particularly the raging preacher, condemning the immigrants and the degenerates. This character could be called Trump-esque in fact.

The saddest segment (while the play was very funny, as it was being told through the prism of a gin bottle, there was a sad, grimy edge to all the stories) was the man with the perfect life, and the perfect wife, drowning his sorrows, sitting alone at a random bar. It reminded me of people with perfect Facebook lives.

The final piece was about a drunken Irish bum, living on the streets of New York, berating himself for his failure in his life. Speaking to the audience, he told us that our success was merely the flip side of his failure. It was unsettling. I felt like replying ‘Hey listen Mister, I was stood up by a friend tonight, and was actually contemplating breaking up a blind date a mere hour ago. Don’t be looking at me as any emblem of success.’

The performance by Liam O’Brien was remarkable – playing such a range of characters, with such an array of accents, moving with such ease between the roles. It was highly impressive.

It was an entertaining, thought provoking, hilarious and upsetting piece of theatre. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. I know I certainly did.

The Limerick show is the start of a national tour. Check your listings and go see it when it comes to your town.

 

 

Opening night

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When you are working as the director on a play, you tend to become superfluous on opening night. The actors have their lines and blocking learned. The set is ready. Sound and light design has been handed to the technical people. You have to surrender your baby to the cast and tech team, and hope that they are kind, loving adoptive parents. You’ve told them what you want. They have practiced. But if they decide to deliver Hamlet’s soliloquy through the medium of modern dance and jazz hands, without telling you, then, there’re not really a lot you can do.

If you are both the writer and director then the wrench of offering up your baby to the masses is even worse. That play has come from the pit of your mind and you are donating it for public consumption. People tend to judge writers from a moral viewpoint more so than they do directors or actors. Those people are interpreters. The writer is the creator of the idea. Therefore slightly more of a morally dubious character.

Last night was opening night of Firedoor Theatre’s ‘Uncut summer 2017’ – a showcase of original short plays.

My offering this time is ‘Mother’s Little Holiday’. It’s the show finale – which in my mind is quite prestigious. It’s a low down, vulgar comedy about thrashy people living thrashy lives. While dressed in leopard-print. In Tenerife. It’s not high art I grant you, but people seem to find the adventures of Maureen (a woman with notions as dark as her fake tan) and her vinegar lipped sidekick Carol, entertaining. This latest chapter in their sordid lives is the sequel to my February play ‘Mother’s Little Treasure’ which saw Maureen all aflutter in her new IKEA kitchen, as she awaited the release from prison of her cruelly misjudged white collar criminal son Gary (pronounced ‘Gorry’). This new update sees our intrepid pair in hot pursuit of Gorry to the Canaries – to where he had fled upon his release – with his low-down, devious, good for nothing tart of a girlfriend Rosario. But where is Gorry? And why is the bar he purchased with the proceeds of his embezzlement called ‘Casa Rosario’? You’ll have to come to the Pearse Centre for 8pm on Friday and Saturday to find out. Continue reading Opening night

Theatre times: ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

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On Wednesday evening I attended ‘Jimmy’s Hall’ in the Abbey Theatre.

I purchased the tickets six months ago, not knowing anything about the play- aside from the fact that the true story was an adaptation from a 2014 film by Ken Loach. As ‘early bird’ tickets were available for ten euros, for the Saturday night Dublin preview (the play had already had its world premiere shows in Leitrim a week earlier), I booked a pair of front row seats. Saturday in the Abbey, darling. Sure what else you would be doing?

Festering in my pit, one Saturday morning, some weeks ago, I received a call from the box office.  Apparently the stage was larger than anticipated, meaning my front row preview seats were  no longer available – in fact my front row no longer existed. Would I be interested in swapping them for full price tickets during the run – at no extra cost to myself? My answer was swift, and in the affirmative. Continue reading Theatre times: ‘Jimmy’s Hall’

My glittering writing career

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Rehearsals are well under way for the new Firedoor Theatre showcase called ‘Uncut’.

On a twice yearly basis this group invites writers and directors to submit new, or previously performed, pieces. If selected, a number of them get staged over a series of nights in a theatre in Dublin. In addition to the showcases the group also stages a full length theatrical extravaganza (also known as a play) a couple of times a year.

Firedoor Theatre is the name of the city based theatre group in which I am a member. I got involved, upon arrival in Dublin in late 2015. I had been a member of both the InPlayers English language theatre group, and the Badhuis group in Amsterdam, prior to my departure from that city. Always as an actor though. I joined this Irish group, partly to maintain my interest in drama. More realistically however, I wanted to meet new people. I was quite the Billy NoMates when I first landed in Dublin, after decades away. I thought that mingling among people with active ‘jazz hands’, would ease my re-entry into the Dublin social whirl. Continue reading My glittering writing career