Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dublin Fringe Festival Favourites

It's back! Poised to fill the streets of the capital with everything from children's theatre to troglodyte Croatian art collectives. The Magnet Entertainment Dublin Fringe Festival (as it is known to its friends) runs 9-24 September this year, bringing all kinds of theatre, performance, music and general larking about to more than 30 venues - and non-venues! - around the city. Here's one of those list of shows that are quite good at grabbing my attention…

You're all going straight to hell!
The Fringe has always had a thing for unconventional venues, but'…

1) Drive By
The 'old firm'” of writer, Tom Swift and director, Jo Mangan (aka the innovative Performance Corporation) will take their audience 'on the road'” for their latest show. The meeting place for this one is the photogenic urban wasteland at the Pigeon House. Even more intriguing is the pricing: '€30 for car, and a tenner for the carless. (16/18-23 September)

2) AH 6905
A sight '‘n' sound '‘n' smell show exploring truth and reconciliation in the North of Ireland, seen through the eyes of a man awaiting an operation. We're all off to meet the guy, sit at his bedside, as it were, in the Central Dental Hospital. Talk about scary! (18-22 September)

3) On This One Night
Local company, Brokentalkers, Fringe offering is a show disguised as 'an interactive guided tour through a city you thought you knew'” All the same, everybody meets up at Project Arts Centre. (11-16 September)

4) Phase 2
Kid Moustache!
Those crazy kids from the National Theatre of the United States (yeah, right) are back in a new pimped up vehicle. And their mind-altering mobile show has the best meeting place of all: Under Clery's Clock. (Three times a day, 14-16 September)

5) It's An Audio De-Tour!
Another Irish company with the old '‘madcap interactive tour' shtick are The Audio DeTOURists who will equip you and a mate with a portable audio device and set ye off on a synchronised tour of Dublin 'using the bridges, boardwalks and architecture of the city as a stage design'”. (19-23 September)

Another Insult to the auld sod
It's Dublin, but not as we know it'…

1) Dedalus Lounge
Evening Herald 'Best of 2005'” laureate, Gary Duggan is back on the party trail. The author of Monged now offers us a snatch of life inside The Dedalus Lounge, an old skool city-centre bar that's managed to remain 'intact despite the tsunami of modern Ireland'”. A good bar left in city centre? Well, now, that's clearly fiction. (17-23 September)

2) An Evening With Prionsias O'Ferfaille
Cracked actor, Prionsias O'Ferfaille, the very strange and melancholic emcee of the Volta movie-cabaret club, breaks away from his usual gig to offer, for the delight of Fringers everywhere, a one-man show. He's ready for the big time, but, as ever, a confederacy of Dublin dunces is set to rise up against him. (18-24 September)

3) Danny & Chantelle (Still Here)
The team that brought you the potty-est mouth on the Dublin tranny scene, Heidi Konnt, are back with an all-new show, about two desperate Dubliners on a no-holds-barred search for a little (or a lot of) fun. Now, you might think that gross indecency would be on the cards, but we are promised instead that the proceeding won't rise about 'Endearingly coarse'”. We'll see. (18-24 September)

4) Xspired
The Millennium Spire is at the heart of the latest from Performance Lab, in which six lost Dublin souls people stand at The Spire, waiting to tell their stories. Sadly, it will be performed in the Project Cube instead of in situ at The Spire (did they not get the memo?) but sounds promising anyway. (12-17 September)

5) Revisions
Making Strange Theatre's new play concerns the existential crises of several 'contemporary Dubliners.'” Vaugue enough, for now, but worth a look to see how the company that gave the world the very hot and very sweaty Dublin debut of Hedwig & the Angry Inch follow that killer act. (18-23 September)

Ah, how cute!
Fundertainment for all the family!

1) Fire Installation
Dublin Docklands Development Authority are hoping to give everybody a warm glow with their Fringe co-pro, the imaginatively name, Fire Installation. Despite the less than flamboyant title, this event, created by the French Compagnie Carabosse, promises to bath George's Dock in fire and light. (9-10 Sept)

2) A Flock Of Flyers and Les Moutons
They're fluffy! They're sheep! They're the aeroplaneless 217th Canadian Flying Squadron! They're really dancers! From Canada! Two shows for the price of none (tickets are free!) Bring the sandwiches and a cold drink. Oh, yeah, and a small child or two.

3) The Lantern Project

Somebody is clearly worried that fuel prices will have plunged the capital into darkness this winter and is madly thinking up way to give us some communal brightness. This time150 specially created lanterns will be installed from the Ha'penny Bridge to George's Dock 'reflecting the emerging tapestry of Dublin 2006'”. Gosh, I thought it was mirrors that reflected'…

4) The Vending Machine Project

Sixty Irish and international artists, musicians and designers have produced 600 art works to fill three vending machines placed throughout the city. 'A unique project that challenges the issue of art and consumerism,'” which is, all the same, sponsored by Coca Cola. The snacks, er, artworks cost 5 each. (11-24 Sept)

It could all go terribly wrong,
But that's why you want to be there'…

1) Five In The Morning
Ant and the team from Rotozaza follow up their previous fringe hits, Doublethink and Romcom, with another show in their unique theatrical style. As usual, the performers don't quite know what they are doing, but in a Rotozaza show, that's the way it's supposed to be. The job of the unrehearsed actors is simply to obey the orders being barked at them from the loudspeaker system. Chaos ensues. But good chaos. (11-16 September)

2) Clone Factory

If ever there were a selling review it has to be the line: 'contains material of an extreme and graphic nature which may offend.'” Poland's Suka Off company promise to do just that as they combine 'the aesthetics of extreme fetish/body-art clubs with new technologies'”. I'm hooked! (18-21 September)

3) Food For Life

Kevin Thornton may be best known as a chef, but he originally trained as a photographer. His first Fringe show combines his two loves in one tasty evening, offering an exhibition of his photos, with a cooking demonstration and tasting. Trust a Michelin-starred chef to know all about the use of carrots (and sticks). (16-17 September)

4) Hero XXI

It is not easy to say exactly what Croatian outfit, Metal Guru are up to. If you believe them, they are building an underground art city in a disused coal mine in their hometown near Labin in Istria. For their Dublin Fringe appearance, in Hero XXI, however, they will act as a band, producing 'narcotic music and fierce, synthetic art'”. You've been warned, like. (15-16 Sept)

5) Go Licky!

Not to be outdone by any common-or-garden underground-dwelling Croatian art collective, Mr. T and Snackbox productions are producing a live (trash) talk show, hosted by 'Licky Rake'” at the Speigeltent. Apparently, Rake is 'uneducated, self-righteous, doped-upto-her eyeballs.'” How unlike our own dear Ryan Turbidy.

Foolish to miss
If this lot isn't quality gear, I'll eat my sandwich'…

1) Hold Me
A glimpse into the lives of Norwegian teenagers, offered at a venue called into action for the first time at Dublin Fringe Festival, Ballymun Comprehensive (18-22 September)

2) The Flowerbed

Director-choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan's Fabulous Beast Dance company (the folks behind Giselle and The Bull) return to the Fringe with a dance '‘n' theatre creation about the violent clash of the neighbours from Hell'…the best bet of the Festival? (19-24 September)

3) John Moran & His Neighbour Saori

It's an intriguing sounding double act, Japanese choreographer-dancer and Yoshiko Chuma chum, Saori, performs along with her neighbour, composer, author and performer, John Moran, a man of whom Philip Glass has said 'I am convinced that there is no more important composer working today'”. What happens when they get together? Let's see.(18-24 Sept)

4) Duel: Sons Of Liberty II

Any show set in an Eastern European hotel/low-budget soft porn studio, has to be worth a look, even if it also offers dancing, fruit fights, a complimentary massages. Hotfoot from Norway, Sons Of Liberty's two-hander also promises lots of black, Nordic humour. (19-24 Sept)

5) Every Day Above Ground
Subtitled An Adaptation Of Michael Ondaatje's Collected Works Of Billy The Kid, the show marks the return of the Canadian SaBooge theatre company, whose Fathom was well received in 2004. (18-23 Sept)

Monday, August 07, 2006

REVIEW: The Full Monty (The Olympia, Dublin)

The original film version of The Full Monty, though hardly a classic of European cinema, had a certain something all of its own. Its Sheffield steel mills setting gave it an identity somewhere outside the bubble of American cinema. All of that has been stripped from the Broadway version of the story. Now, instead we have all the touchstones of homogenisation, backward baseball caps and basketball fans, big brand US cigarettes and beer carefully built into the action.

As some compensation for those sad and rather pathetic compromises comes a script and some songs that have heaps of polish, and a show that pushes the buttons with some dexterity. And even, on occasion, does more than that.

This time around the story of some out of work factory fellas and their bizarre git rich quick scheme, which involves working as strippers, is set in Buffalo New York. Spurred on by the six-pack sporting Jerry (Edward Baker-Duly) Dave (Simon Delaney) and the crew struggle with their besieged masculinity as they prepare to offer the women of Buffalo “The full Monty.”

And if that is the sort of thing that will have you buying tickets, the audience here do indeed get a butchers of the full block and tackle attached to the male leads. But more importantly, there are also enough raucous original songs to wipe away any memories of the film’s Hot Chocolate-stained Britsoul jukebox soundtrack. Delaney, in particular, delivers composer, David Yazbeck’s masterpiece, You Rule My World, a twisted love song to his own beer gut, with some gusto.

Add to the night’s entertainment some completely captivating “good bad” dancing (from Mark Asante), large helping of phallophobia, a tearful ballad to a dead mother, a nice turn from June Rogers and a gay subplot, and you have quite a package. Now if there were only some colloquial British expression that could really summon up a sense of such reckless plenitude…