Saturday 16 December 2017

7 Days + Nights: 25th February - 3rd March

Rusty Puppet's Stand-Up, Sycamore Club, Dublin 2

Sophie Gorman

How better to recover from a hard day of filling out election slips, putting them in the ballot boxes and all that deciding the future of the country high jinks, than by pulling up a stool at the newest monthly comedy night in town?

Charged with the job of tickling your funny bone, the roll call of funnymen (yes, yawn, they are all men) includes Neil Hickey, Enda Muldoon, Trevor Browne and the Totally Wired crew. Located in The Sycamore Club upstairs from Temple Bar's Purty Kitchen and hosted by Danny O'Brien, they're also throwing in Polling Drinks Promotions. This could be the only way to ensure you have the last laugh on ballot day.


Usher, The O2, Dublin 1

Years from now a war-crimes tribunal may feel the need to strap Usher to a lie-detector and grill him over his part in the rise of Justin Bieber. Surfing the web one rainy afternoon, it was none other than Usher Raymond IV who stumbled upon the helmet-haired extraterrestrial break-dancing on YouTube and from there presided over his rise to terrifying global ubiquity. No slouch himself, he is the second-best-selling artist of the Noughties after Eminem. Like Slim Shady, he's had his off-stage troubles, culminating in his divorce in 2009. The break-up was the subject of last year's Raymond v Raymond, a confessional record which suggested that his roving eye may have played a significant part in the marital disintegration. Not that he's exactly a reformed character -- hook-up OMG yields the tender chorus "Honey got a booty like pow pow pow". Quite.


Plan B, Olympia Theatre, Dublin 2

If Ben Drew had worn a suit when he first appeared on the musical scene, we would have assumed this then hard-assed rapper was on his way to court. Nowadays, the slick patina fits this reformed crooner. Yes, the singer who "used to talk morbid just to make you feel awkward" is now a soulful chap who happily blends a lightened version of his aggro-rap with a delicate falsetto and the results are an unexpected triumph. If his show-stealing performance at the recent Brits is any hint of what he plans for Dublin, we're in for a treat as the lad is in town for the first of two nights.


I am Number Four, On General Release

Based on a teen novel by James Frey, this Disney action film sounds unoriginal but turns out to be surprisingly engaging. Alex Pettyfer plays John, a seemingly normal 16-year-old middle American teenager who's actually one of nine aliens who were brought to Earth as infants after their home planet of Lorien was destroyed. Now the savage species that laid waste to Lorien have followed them to our planet and are killing them one by one. John and his bodyguard hide out in a small town where John makes friends, but his superpowers threaten to expose him as the hostile aliens track him down. Well made and intermittently witty, I am Number Four bears more than a passing resemblance to the Twilight films, but is far less po-faced, and a lot of fun.


The Cripple of Inishmaan, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin 2

Life is fairly uneventful on the Aran Island of Inismaan. So when a major Hollywood director comes to visit the neighbouring island of Inishmore with the notion of making a film there and, subsequently, making stars out of the locals who manage to secure parts in it, the whole community is somewhat excited, to put it mildly, and none more so than the island's young cripple Billy. Such is the opening gambit of Martin McDonagh's multi-award winning drama, which was first staged by Druid Theatre Company in 2008 and has proceeded to win a crowded mantelpiece of trophies. This week's Gaiety run is almost your final chance to see this hugely successful production in Ireland, as it is about to embark on a major American tour next week, before eventually returning for a limited number of dates in Galway and culminating, suitably enough, on Inismaan on June 26.


When Jolie Met Christie, Axis: Ballymun

Contrary to our initial expectations, this is not about any fisticuffs between Angelina Jolie and Christy Turlington. The titular Jolie is instead Al Johnson and the Christie in question is another musician Christie Hennessy. Hennessy was always fascinated with Johnson and, before his death in 2007, Hennessy had hoped to tell his own story in a collaborative theatrical and musical production interweaving it with elements of Johnson's music. Well now this new production by Sean McCarthy and starring Aonghus McAnally in his first theatrical role will celebrate both musical talents, contemplating what it would be like if the pair met in the afterlife, the controversial superstar Johnson and the humble painter-decorator from Tralee who knew how to make musical gold on the guitar.


Dublin Book Festival, various venues

Today, should you have momentarily forgotten, is World Book Day. And the state of our nation in all its unravelling glory will be placed under the spotlight for the fourth Dublin Book Festival. This tricky topic will be probed in a number of public debates, including a rather heavyweight one today as Mark Little, Shane Coleman, Ken Fox, Justine McCarthy and economist Stephen Kinsella will debate what the new government should do to save our economy. On Saturday, Ryan Tubridy and historian Diarmaid Ferriter will host a public discussion on the lessons we can learn from history. And next Sunday, Fintan O'Toole will line out alongside Pat Leahy, Naoise Nunn and Kevin Rafter to debate the need for political reform. Throw in (hopefully) less-politicised readings by the likes of Sheila O'Flanagan, Claire Kilroy, Dermot Bolger, Anthony Cronin and Ross O'Carroll-Kelly, workshops for children and interviews with top authors, and the fact that most of the events are free, and you've got yourself a festival.

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