Monday 18 December 2017

From circuses to sirens – 10 things you shouldn't miss at this year's festival

Now well into its 50s, the Dublin Theatre Festival remains the country's leading showcase of the best of Irish and international theatre. Here are 10 things to see at this year's festival, which runs from Thursday till October 13. (See More coverage to follow in the coming weeks).

1. A Shakespearean siren

Irish chanteuse Camille O'Sullivan tackles Shakespeare in The Rape of Lucrece, a political-thriller narrative poem set in ancient Rome. O'Sullivan, better known for her beguiling versions of Nick Cave, Tom Waits and other favourites of 'new cabaret', received rave reviews at the Edinburgh and Sydney festivals for this new theatrical departure, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. (October 10-12).

2. A musical masterpiece

Bertolt Brecht pioneered 'in yer face' theatre in 1920s' Berlin – theatre that combined overt political messages with popular entertainment, often through song. Written with composer Kurt Weill, The Threepenny Opera is their masterpiece, a jazz-and-cabaret musical that became an international hit. (September 26-October 12).

3. An Edinburgh hit

Festival director Willie White got his spoke in early, booking The Events, a new play by David Greig, even before it became one of the must-sees at this year's Edinburgh fringe. Greig, Scotland's leading playwright, here turns his attention to the plight of a community struggling to come to terms with a mass murder, with echoes of the Anders Breivik killings in Norway. Intriguingly, the production features a local choir. (October 1-5).

4. Sexy circus

Australian company Circa produces guaranteed entertainment in the form of jaw-dropping physical circus, stripped of the big-top clowning around that characterises the circus we all grew up with. A popular hit at previous Dublin and Galway festivals, they return with a new show, Wunderkammer. (September 25-29).

5. An Irish master

Frank McGuinness has lit up the Abbey stage in the past and returns with The Hanging Gardens, a play about a veteran writer and a family crisis. (October 3-November 9).

6. A literary homage

Downstairs, at the Peacock, veteran actor and all-round entertainer Eamon Morrissey premieres a new one-man show about Maeve Brennan, the enigmatic Irish writer who was a leading contributor to The New Yorker (and who was the subject of the play The Talk of the Town last year). Working on Broadway in the 1960s, Morrissey discovered that he had grown up in Brennan's old family home, and he went on to meet her. It sounds gentle, but I think this could be special. (September 24-October 12).

7. The anti-theatre theatre

When New York experimental theatre-maker Richard Maxwell got pigeonholed as someone who made "neutral" theatre, he responded with a play called Neutral Hero. Expect to have your ideas of performance and storytelling stretched. This was one of The New York Times's top 10 shows of last year. (October 9-12).

8. The sublime in surtitles

The French show Germinal, a piece of theatrical philosophising, is currently one of the hot tickets on the international festival circuit. Expect subtitles, screens and sing-alongs. It may look foreboding in the programme, but I'm assured it's loads of fun. (September 26-28).

9. A suburban venture

Fishamble takes the new play by the award-winning young Irish writer Sean McLoughlin, The Bruising of Clouds, on tour to Ballymun, Dún Laoghaire, Blanchardstown and Tallaght. (September 25-October 12).

10. A feast for the children

Fresh from success on Broadway, Theatre Lovett return with A Feast of Bones, a musical fable based on a Grimm fairytale, retold by Walter de la Mare. A guaranteed delight for everyone with the heart of a 10-year-old. (October 1-6).

Irish Independent

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