7 Days + Nights: 17th - 23rd December
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17
Jack and the Beanstalk, The Helix
We have to come clean. We are not huge fans of panto, to put it mildly. Or at least we weren't until we were reminded of what good, old-fashioned fun it can be when it's not full of distracting minor celebrities, annoying pop songs and embarrassing double entendres.
Well, apparently what we needed to reawaken the Christmas spirit was a traditional show where you want to shout at the baddies and cheer the goodies, and that's exactly what this year's offering at The Helix provides. Presented by TheatreworX, the action is set in the all-too-familiar town of Ballybrutal and it stars George McMahon as Jack and Emma Warren as Jill, but most importantly a chorus of 24 very young performers who steal the show. It runs until January 16 and if it managed to dispel the Scrooge in us (temporarily at least), it's certainly worth a visit. Oh no it isn't, oh yes it is ... You see what it's done to us.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18
Meat Loaf, The O2
Our esteemed rock critic John Meagher will be making a special trip to The O2 tonight to accompany one of Meat Loaf's most devoted fans -- his mother, who is travelling up from Tipperary especially for the gig. And that sums up just how gloriously diverse admirers are for one Marvin Lee Aday, aka Michael Lee Aday, aka Meat Loaf. Mr Bat Out of Hell has been on the road for more than 30 years, but his live shows are still most memorable and his voice as deafening as ever. Apparently during the recording of his first song, Meat Loaf hit a note so high that he managed to blow a fuse on the recording monitor. Gotta love that lung-power.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19
David O'Doherty, Whelan's, Dublin 2
If ever there was a comedian who couldn't offend a paper bag, that would be David O'Doherty. While so many of his colleagues are trying their hardest to provoke ire and outrage, O'Doherty has been quietly going about his business, plinkety plonkety at his little keyboards, gathering more and more fans by the show since he first stepped on to the comedy stage in 1998. O'Doherty won The if.com Award (formerly The Perrier Award) in Edinburgh two years ago, but he certainly hasn't rested on his laurels ever since. He's been writing children's books, working in telly and film, writing comedy shows, touring and making his own cups of tea. He's in town to present his new show There is Probably No God But Christmas is Still Deadly (note how he cleverly covers his bases with the use of the word 'probably').
MONDAY, DECEMBER 20
Office Christmas Party for the Unemployed, The Grand Social, Dublin 1
It's all been rather quiet on the Christmas party front this year. No big flashy dos in the Shelbourne, no hiring of the RDS for themed banquets, no flying off for a weekend in Marbella. Those who are gathering to mark the end of the year with the co-workers they still have seem to be opting for a few low-key drinks or a cheap bite, often at their own expense. But so many people have brutally lost their jobs this year and employment prospects are so bleak that you could be forgiven for feeling a little sorry for yourself. Mind you, you're not alone and a night out is not necessarily out of your price range. Tonight will see a big raucous hoopla for everyone without a monthly paycheque. Expect cheesy music, mistletoe, Christmas crackers, pass the parcel and even a secret Santa. There will also be live music, with Till Death Do Us Party heading the bill. Entry is of course free for the unwaged, it is your Christmas party after all, but you will need to bring some sort of proof.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 21
Villagers, Vicar Street, Dublin 2
Conor O'Brien's Radiohead-tinted mope-rock has been making rather modest inroads overseas -- The NME couldn't be bothered listing Villagers in its best-of-year round up -- so it may console the Dun Laoghaire musician to know that, on native soil, he's on the brink of Bell X1-esque quasi-hugeness. The first of two nights at Vicar Street brings the curtain down on a year of solid achievements for the ex-Immediate man, with Becoming A Jackal receiving a Mercury Prize nomination and lashings of global press. Whether that will be enough to rescue him from big at home/can't get arrested abroad purgatory remains to be seen -- in his backyard at least, he is on the way to being wildly loved and these shows should be a triumph. As for us, wee have to admit, we are rather fond of the lad, his poetic verses and his soulful stares. Bless.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 22
Tron Legacy, General Release
Fans of the cult 1982 sci-fi adventure Tron have been waiting with bated breath for this tardy sequel, and, while we found it pretty dull, the special effects are undeniably impressive. Garret Hedlund plays Sam Flynn, a young tearaway whose computer-whizz father Kevin disappeared without a trace 20 years ago. When Sam goes to an old gaming arcade his father used to run, he's transported to the virtual world of The Grid, where he finds his father still alive and doing battle with an evil cyber dictator. Jeff Bridges reprises his role from the first film, and the spectacular 3D chase and fight scenes are Tron Legacy's principal selling point. With Bruce Boxleitner, Olivia Wilde.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 23
The National Chamber Choir, Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin 1
By Thursday afternoon, you will probably be a tad tired and emotional. The combination of the morning after Christmas parties and last-minute present shopping can sap all the energy and seasonal sparkle out of even the most devoted. So how better to revive and rejuvenate than escaping the O'Connell Street crowds and fleeing to the Hugh Lane Gallery for an afternoon of Christmas carolling with the National Chamber Choir? Promising enduring favourites alongside some lesser-known gems, the programme includes Britten's Christ's Nativity, Leighton's A Hymn of the Nativity and Berlin's White Christmas. This is guaranteed to restore all yuletide spirits. And on that note, a very happy Christmas to one and all!