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Critic's guide to going out


Culture Night, venues throughout the land

If you can't find time to engage in culture for the other 364 days of the year, tonight is your night for full immersion. With events and late openings taking place in 30 towns across this island of ours, you won't have to travel far to dip your toes into the cultural pond. Dublin itself has a surfeit of events this evening, free tasters to woo you across cultural thresholds that you may have been too intimidated to cross before. The website handily divides the country into regions, cities and even sections, so you can plot your personal tour. One event that does catch the eye in Dublin comes courtesy of Dublin Contemporary, who are planning a walking tour of this city from a novel perspective, to bring all the street art that traditionally forms part of our background into the foreground.



Engage Arts Festival, Bandon, Co Cork

Taking place all weekend, the fourth annual Engage Arts Festival provides good reason to travel to Cork. In a programme filled with interesting events including the world premiere of Voices From The Cailleach, a new play written and performed by theatre-maker, actress and dancer Paula McGlinchey, the highlight must be tonight's Crash Ensemble performance, which sees these contemporary music trailblazers present three Irish premieres. The show in St Peter's Church is entitled How About Now and features two new works by Nico Muhly. Trust us, it will be something very special.



Drive, on General Release

2011 looks set to be Ryan Gosling's year, and he delivers a hugely charismatic performance in Nicolas Winding Refn's effortlessly stylish retro thriller. Gosling is a nameless Los Angeles mechanic and movie stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for bank robbers. He falls in love with a wide-eyed single mother (Carey Mulligan) who lives next door, then falls foul of a local mobster and ends up with a price on his head. Not much of Drive's rather formulaic plot bears close inspection, but the film looks magnificent and evokes the classic getaway crime thrillers of the late 60s and 70s. It may have more style than substance, but, boy, does it have style to burn.


Ghostpoet, Whelan's, Dublin 2

This year's Mercury outsider, Ghostpoet gives good gig. We first saw him perform in a small overcrowded room in Islington, but even in these modest circumstances his talent shone through. Success has been a long time coming for this charismatic performer and now he has attained it, he ain't going to be letting go anytime soon. He possesses a most identifiable vocal style, an endearing humbleness and an ear for sweet, ramshackle tunes, as exemplified by his debut album Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. You would be right to assume we are rather fond of this London chap.



Other Voices: Joseph Tomelty, Abbey Theatre, Dublin 1

There's much more to our national theatre than, well, theatre. This evening sees it hosting one of its regular offstage events, although it does have a dramatic twist. Deservedly acclaimed actor Stephen Rea will be marking the centenary of Northern Irish actor and playwright Joseph Tomelty with a celebration of his writing. Rea will be joined by poet Damian Smyth to explore the creative life of the author behind such plays as All Soul's Night, Is The Priest At Home? and The End House.



Batman, The O2, Dublin 1

No bi-coloured glasses required, Gotham City will be brought to actual 3D life in The O2 tonight as Batman swoops into town. Taking the story back to its beginnings, the show focuses on Robin's quest for justice, which leads him to follow in the footsteps of his hero, the mysterious vigilante known as Batman, much to the dismay of his protective guardian, billionaire Bruce (yes, you've guessed the twist in this tale). This hi-octane stage version of the DC comic story of the caped crusader is a proper extravaganza, complete with 43 actors/acrobats and state-of-the-art set and lighting design. Expect lots of KA-POW.



Dublin Theatre Festival, Various Venues

Excuse us if we're in something of a tizzy, but Dublin is about to explode at its artistic seams with the opening tonight of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival. This year's programme is the fifth and final festival under Loughlin Deegan's artistic directorship and he's certainly going out with quite the bang. There are a whopping 10 world premieres opening over the next 18 days, including shows presented by Rough Magic, The Gate, Landmark Productions, Siren Productions and THISISPOPBABY, who are showing a brand new work by Mark O'Halloran staged in a rundown guesthouse somewhere in the north inner-city (the small audience will be led on a little mystery tour). This is a programme of rare quality, so take a chance and dive in.


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