Saturday 20 January 2018

All the world's a stage as 55th Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off

Jenny Konig & Robert Beyer in Hamlet from BerlinÄôs Schaubvºhne Theatre in the Bord Gais energy Theatre. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Jenny Konig & Robert Beyer in Hamlet from BerlinÄôs Schaubvºhne Theatre in the Bord Gais energy Theatre. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

After months of read-throughs and rehearsals, costume fittings and pinnings and last-minute devising and directing, the curtain rose on the 55th Dublin Theatre Festival at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre last night.

The 18-day festival opened with the Irish premiere of Berlin's Schaubühne Theatre's production of 'Hamlet'. Filled with blood, sweat and plenty of tears the German language three-hour performance got players, producers and punters talking.

"The buzz is electric," festival director Willie White told the Irish Independent.

"We have been planning and preparing for nearly a year so this feels like D-Day."

Over the course of the festival, re-imagined classics, innovative productions and world premieres will be staged in theatres around the city centre.

And it's an eclectic mix to say the least. 'Love/ Hate' stars storm the stage, Shakespearean tragedies get down and dirty, cheesy superheroes show us their world, and the Hindu God Ganesh takes on the Third Reich.

Hardcore

"I always say the Dublin Theatre Festival is a bit like Electric Picnic," Mr White said. "There is something for everyone. You can dip in and out, you don't have to be a hardcore theatregoer or critic to enjoy a good show. Have fun, suss out what's going on and enjoy it."

If you want to get a sense of the history of the long-standing festival the Little Museum's current exhibition, check out 'Encore! A History of the Dublin Theatre Festival', which is filled with vintage posters and prompt sheets from iconic productions.

Renowned theatre company Druid has also teamed up with legendary playwright Tom Murphy to stage his 1985 work 'Bailegangaire' and new companion play 'Brigit' at the Olympia Theatre from October 1-5.

"They are both stunning works," Garry Hynes of Druid said.

One of the hottest tickets in town will undoubtedly be Mark O'Rowe's new thrilling drama 'Our Few and Evil Days' at the Abbey Theatre.

The play has a knockout cast with Sinead Cusack, Ciaran Hinds and 'Love/ Hate' actors Charlie Murphy and Tom Vaughan Lawlor.

"I've worked with Mark before on 'Howie the Rookie' and am delighted to be returning to the Abbey," Vaughan Lawlor said.

"It's a very exciting production to be part of."

The Gate Theatre is staging Hugo Hamilton's latest work 'The Mariner' starring Ingrid Craigie and 'The Fall' actress Lisa Dwyer Hogg.

Eimear McBride's award-winning novel 'A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing' has been adapted for the stage by The Corn Exchange and will be performed by 'Moone Boy' actress Aoife Duffin.

"The book blew my head clean off when I read it at first," Director of The Corn Exchange Annie Ryan said. "It is such an inherently theatrical book and bringing it to the stage has been thrilling."

The first Irish language play to be staged at the festival since 1997, 'Réiltín', is tipped to be a runaway hit and tells the tale of an ambitious young singer in post-boom Ireland.

Known for its immersive, at times even anarchic productions, Pan Pan Theatre presents a "roller-coaster re-imagining" of Chekhov's comic masterpiece 'The Seagull and other Birds'.

Family -riendly performances include 'The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy' which takes theatregoers through a fantastical world of curds and whey.

The festival also contains an Australian Season, while 'Ganesh Versus the Third Reich' by Australian theatre group Back to Back Theatre, sees the Hindu God travel back to Nazi Germany to reclaim the swastika.

Irish Independent

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