Entertainment Music

Wednesday 22 November 2017

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


Galway Theatre Festival, various venues

You'd think Galway had more than its fair share of arts festivals during the summer, but just in case the West was missing its cultural overload this damp autumn, a theatre festival is here to fill the gap.

Now in its fourth year, this packs in 32 performances in a week. It runs until Monday and the weekend's highlights include Who Needs Enemies -- Nightmare on Henry St, a co-production with the Bulmers Galway Comedy Festival; Murder on Main Street, a site-specific hitman comedy; and All Things Considered It's A Nice Place To Start, straight from Absolut Fringe.



The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Co Louth

Hamlet is turned on its head, inside out, its guts and also its humour are wrenched out and splayed in all their bloody glory in this brilliantly original production by Pan Pan Theatre.

It was the toast of the 2010 Dublin Theatre Festival, scooping the top prize at the Irish Theatre Awards. And now it has returned for an international tour that ranges from Melbourne to New York, with national pit stops in Portlaoise tonight and then Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Directed by Gavin Quinn, this show has been described as a "meditation upon human frailty in confrontation with death". Shakespeare wouldn't recognise himself.



Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, various venues

As eagle-eyed readers will have noticed, we are studiously avoiding any references to this weekend's holiday that involves bobbing for apples and trick-or-treating.

The reason is a lifelong phobia to fancy-dress. Instead of covering ourselves in fake blood, we will be heading to Cork for the jazz festival that has certainly broadened its horizons in recent years.

Alongside jazz greats such as the Jean-Luc Ponty Quartet and Pee Wee Ellis and his Funk Ensemble, this year's line-up also includes the likes of comedian Tim Minchin and DJ Grandmaster Flash. Expect musical fireworks.



The Ides of March, General Release

There's something of the TV mini-series about George Clooney's ambitious new film The Ides of March, a slow-moving political thriller that is not without its moments but never really gets going as a drama.

Clooney, who co-wrote and directs the film, is Mike Morris, a charismatic candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination who looks like winning the crucial Ohio vote.

His young junior campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) passionately believes in Morris, but is about to have his faith sorely tested by dirty politics and a battle between two campaign veterans.

A fine cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood, and The Ides of March is certainly nice to look at, but ultimately it promises a little more than it manages to deliver.


Another Honest Jon's Chop Up, Vicar Street, Dublin

From dashing around in a tracksuit yelling 'oi!' in his best proto-mockney to writing musicals about Elizabethan mystics and channelling the music of Mali and Ghana, the older he gets, the more absurd it seems that Damon Albarn ever fronted Blur.

Accompanied by Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea -- how did he get time off from the day job? -- Albarn will be in Ireland for a short tour with his Honest Jon collective.

Also in the line-up are afro-beat drummer Tony Allen, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Detroit DJ Theo Parrish and Chicago's Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, a band that was once approached in the street by a (then unknown) Barack Obama, who wondered if they'd serve as a warm-up act for him at one of his rallies (he had no money so they reluctantly declined).

The gig will also be the centrepiece of Cork Jazz Festival, which, in addition, includes turns from Kyle Eastwood, Pee Wee Ellis and Amiina.



Surface Tension: The Future of Water, Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin 2

Could an exhibition ever be better timed? As the floods swept through our streets a few days ago, we found ourselves wondering if the deluge was an elaborate publicity stunt for this fascinating new exhibition.

Despite being awash, the world's persistently swelling population continues to survive on the same 1pc of available freshwater as every previous generation, and we must ask how our planet's natural systems can sustain this.

Highlights include a prototype for a robotic swarming sailing ship that could clean up oil spills in the future, and a filmed aquatic odyssey as artist Fergal McCarthy swims across Dublin.

Our own favourite piece is Hydrogeny, a stunningly beautiful work that separates hydrogen and oxygen with a pure white laser. The results are swirling worlds of mystery. Much to learn, much to admire, much to linger over.



Sean Scully, Kerlin Gallery, Dublin 2

It's only when you see the canvases of artist Sean Scully in person that you realise what makes them so special. Printed reproductions of his signature large blocks of colour never do justice to the sense of movement he manages to magically capture.

A new exhibition of his work is currently on display in the Kerlin Gallery tucked away off South Anne Street. Called Cut Ground, this show is connected directly with the earth's surface, its bumpy topography.

And check out the room permanently dedicated to his paintings of scale in the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square.


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