Theatre Festival: First night delights and dazzles star filled audiences
DAZZLING aerial acrobatics, multimedia illusion and circus magic adorned the 54th Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival last night -- which opened with the first co-production of a classic play between the National Theatres of Ireland and Britain.
British ambassador Mr Julian King and President Mary McAleese were among VIP guests at the first night in the Abbey Theatre for a new production of 'Juno And The Paycock' by Sean O'Casey, directed by Howard Davies and with a cast including Sinead Cusack and Ciaran Hinds.
They were joined by Sean O'Casey's daughter, Siobhan, Sinead Cusack's actor husband, Jeremy Irons, and RTE personalities Pat Kenny and Joe Duffy.
The festival will see 553 performances of 28 productions over 18 days.
For festival director Loughlin Deegan the night was tinged with sadness, as he is leaving the festival after five years to become head of the new Lir, Trinity/RADA theatre academy.
This year also marks the last year that Ulster Bank will be the title sponsor of the festival, after a successful five-year relationship. But Mr Deegan was adamant that the festival would find a new sponsor, and continue, despite the recession.
To back that up, organisers revealed last night that tickets, with prices starting at €15, were selling well, with some shows already sold out.
Many of the productions are in site-specific locations, including a B&B off Mountjoy Square, an old Magdalene Convent in Sean MacDermott Street, and a haunted house in North Great George's Street.
One of the most anticipated parts of the programme takes places in 15 Usher Island on Dublin's quays.
Inspired by George Pabst's silent masterpiece 'Pandora's Box' and Wedekind's 19th century 'Lulu' plays, 'The Lulu House', features Cork singer and actress Camille O'Sullivan inviting an audience of 50 people each night the opportunity to investigate the tragic downfall of the elusive stage and screen icon.
Eight shows opened last night, including an aerial acrobatics interpretation of Chekhov in the Gaiety.
Also as part of the festival The Gate is presenting a new stage version of Hugo Hamilton's memoir 'The Speckled People'. The Dublin Theatre Festival runs until October 16.