Drama in Dublin

Acrobatic insects, nuns on dodgems, and chaos at the box office?

Yep, must be the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Currently in full swing, this year’s festival has had no shortage of drama off and on stage– from the cancellation of the preview performance of Black Watch (due to concerns about seating safety- ultimately unfounded), to a last minute re-seating scramble at the first night of Metamorphosis that delayed the performance for an hour or so. Nevertheless I think the programme at this year’s festival is one of the strongest in years, and every performance I’ve attended so far has been packed out…

It’s been interesting to read the reviews of the shows so far–  Fintan O’Toole dug Gatz but not Metamorphosis, Seona Mac Reamoinn found Dodgems ‘deliciously fun’ but still in need of ‘tinkering’, and Sara Keating called Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ‘near perfection’.

On my scorecard, Dodgems was a clear winner, if at times heavy-handed with the social themes; England was great in the first half but floundered in the second; and Metamorphosis was uneven but had a very impressive performance from its lead actor. I’ve heard good things too about The Year of Magical Thinking and Hedda Gabler— and I’m looking forward myself to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Cripple of Inishmaan.

Any other thoughts out there on this year’s crop?

On a related note, in Saturday’s Irish Times Chris Morash reviewed the newly published edited volume Interactions: Dublin Theatre Festival 1957-2007, a look back at the development of the festival over the past five decades, and by extension, the growth of theatre in Ireland:

Based (in part), on a conference organised by the Irish Theatre Diaspora Project at last year’s theatre festival, the first part of the book brings together 14 essays by various theatre scholars on aspects of the festival, ranging from its foundations in the 1950s, to recent Russian and Australian productions.

The second part of the book lays the foundations for future research, by combining short (often entertainingly anecdotal) essays by former festival directors (Lewis Clohessy, David Grant, Tony O’Dalaigh, and Fergus Linehan) with a complete listing of all festival productions since 1957.

Sounds like a much needed dose of context and critique on Irish theatre– the book is published by Carysfort Press and is edited by Nicholas Grene and Patrick Lonergan.