Entertainment Music

Friday 15 December 2017

7 days & 7 nights: A critics guide to going out


Sophie Gorman

60th Wexford Festival Opera, Wexford City

There is nothing quite like being in Wexford during the opera festival -- the whole town gets involved and the atmosphere is most magical. And it will be particularly special this year as the festival is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a cracking programme of 52 different events.

The cornerstone will be three main-stage evening operas, including a rarely produced Polish work, a French opera comique and a work from a popular Italian composer Donizetti. It all kicks off tonight with turn of the 20th century Polish opera Maria.

And for the first time, audiences can enjoy a special daytime package. Arrive in Wexford in the late morning, enjoy a lunchtime recital in St Iberius Church, lunch in Whites of Wexford Hotel and a ShortWork opera, all for a fully inclusive price of just ¤55.



Darklight 2011, The Factory, Dublin 4

Three cheers for Darklight Film Festival. It is of the here and now, it is low/no budget, it is DIY, it is the real deal. For this year's outing, Darklight has gained a new HQ -- the indie-tastic Factory near Grand Canal Dock -- and the party kicked off last Thursday.

This year's theme is Strictly Roots, and there have already been key screenings and a symposium, but there is still much to enjoy.

Today's highlights include a panel discussion asking if communities can represent themselves through film, and a screening and performance by We Are Poets.

We do have to admit, though, that we found the website almost impossible to decipher, with no simple listings section that we could uncover. But we are confident that you are all much more tech-savvy than us luddites and will succeed where we failed.



We Need to Talk about Kevin, General Release

Based on Lionel Shriver's acclaimed 2003 novel, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk about Kevin examines the aftermath of a Columbine-style school massacre from the point of view of the killer's mother.

Tilda Swinton is Eva Khatchadourian, a shell of a woman who lives in squalor in a rented house and ekes out a living as a secretary. Everywhere she goes, she encounters either hostility or outright aggression, because everyone in town knows who she is and what her monstrous son, Kevin, did.

In a hugely accomplished and oddly beautiful film, we revisit Kevin's childhood in lyrical flashbacks as Eva searches desperately for an explanation. Whether or not she ever finds it is a moot point, but this is an enthralling and gruelling film filled with unforgettable moments and images.


Britney Spears, O2, Dublin 1

Oh, Britney, Britney -- how were we supposed to know... that fame would push you to the brink of emotional implosion and play such unsightly havoc with your personal life?

Still, the dark days of driving with an unbelted infant on her lap and chopping her hair off seem to finally be behind Ms Spears. And while that could have been anyone singing on her trance-flavoured Femme Fatale album, who could argue with its menu of blistering beats and killer hooks?

She certainly ought to be in a celebratory mood when she hits Dublin -- Britney recently joined that elite club of people with 10 million or more Twitter followers. On the other hand, she is flying into a bit of a storm front. Glamour model Jordan has just accused Spears of helping to prematurely sexualise modern teenagers.

Stay tuned -- this could bubble over into the best online smackdown since Lily Allen gave up on Twitter.



An Béal Bocht, The Factory Performance Space, Sligo

Bónapárt Ó Cúnasa is a resident of Corkadoragha, a remote region of Gaelic-speaking Ireland where it never stops raining and where everyone lives in desperate poverty (and always will).

Having embarked on a series of blood-curdling adventures, Ó Cúnasa has landed up in prison on a false murder charge. "Safe in jail and free from the miseries of life," he begins, to write the most affecting memoir of our times.

An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth) is Brian O'Nolan's Irish-language masterpiece. It was first published in 1941 and was the only one of O'Nolan's novels written under his Myles na gCopaleen byline.

It is produced now to commemorate the centenary of Brian or Myles or even Flann O'Brien's birth.



The Country Girls, Garter Lane Theatre, Waterford

Edna O'Brien is quite simply extraordinary and we proudly salute this titian Irish octogenarian goddess. One of O'Brien's most important pieces of writing remains her debut novel, The Country Girls, which was banned upon release in 1960 due to its candid approach to young girls and sex.

O'Brien has now adapted this work for the stage and a new production is being staged by Waterford's Red Kettle Theatre Company. Directed by Mikel Murfi, this new production stars Peter Hanly, Charlie Bonner and Rachael Dowling. It still centres on young girls and sex and it runs in Waterford until November 5, before transferring to Dublin's Gaiety from November 7-12.



Scheherazade and 1001 Arabian Nights, Gaiety Theatre, Dublin 2

Oh, we do love a good melodrama and they don't get much more melodramatic than this Rimsky-Korsakov ballet. The gist is that the Sultan of ancient Persia is enjoying the pleasures and entertainment of his concubines and favourite wife Zobeide when his brother suggests that Zobeide is unfaithful, and recommends that they pretend to go on a hunting trip. As soon as the king and his brother have departed, the male slaves are freed and there is an orgy within the harem. With the revelry in full swing, the King returns unexpectedly and orders that all be killed.

After all have perished and only Zobeide remains, the King hesitates. She begs his forgiveness, but realises the futility of it all. She stabs herself, falling at his feet.

Prepare to swoon at Ballet Ireland's new full-length production, choreographed by Morgann Runacre-Temple, which embarks on a nationwide tour after this Gaiety run.


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