Sunday 18 March 2018

Few new plays but lots of music and dance for Theatre Festival

'Swan Lake' directed by Michael Keegan-Dolan is on at the O’Reilly Theatre from October 1. Photo: Colm Hogan
'Swan Lake' directed by Michael Keegan-Dolan is on at the O’Reilly Theatre from October 1. Photo: Colm Hogan

Emer O'Kelly

The 2016 Dublin Theatre Festival opens on September 20, and director Willie White is continuing his "mixed bag" approach to programming, which has served him well.

There is as usual a strong international input, with offerings from England, Australia, Spain, Iceland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Among the most notable is the already widely acclaimed irreverent production of A Midsummer Night's Dream from the Lyric Hammersmith and Filter Theatre, which will open the festival at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, as well as Every Brilliant Thing from Paines Plough and Pentabus at the Pavilion in Dun Laoghaire.

Ancient Rain is a piece of music theatre from Australian companies Far and Away and Brink, and will be at the Olympia.

And the Belgian company Berlin will offer a documentary-style piece at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Chernobyl: So Far, So Close. Those promise to be highlights.

Dance is well represented. Brokentalkers will stage The Circus Animals' Desertion at the Beckett Theatre; the hugely imaginative and talented Michael Keegan-Dolan will bring a new version of Swan Lake to the O'Reilly Theatre; while dance will dominate These Rooms, a co-production between ANU and CoisCeim directed by David Bolger at 85 Upper Dorset Street. But with the strong dance element in the Festival, it seems odd that arrangements were not made for a transfer of Invitation to a Journey, the Galway Festival's marvellous co-production with CoisCeim, Crash Ensemble and Fishamble celebrating the work of Eileen Grey.

Perhaps there might have been more new Irish plays, but the Abbey will offer Carmel Winters's The Remains of Maisie Duggan on the Peacock stage, billed as a subversive family comedy, while Frank McGuinness takes to musical theatre on the main stage with Donegal (score by Kevin Doherty), again featuring family dysfunction, this time in the world of country music. It's directed by Conall Morrison.

Druid will offer Meadhbh McHugh's Helen and I at the Civic in Tallaght, and the actor/writer Michael Collins will have Ireland Shed a Tear?, a commemoration of the Carrickmines Traveller tragedy at the New Theatre.

The usually dazzling Corn Exchange will present a new version of The Seagull at the Gaiety - bound to be a Festival highlight, as will be an adaptation of Beckett's early work First Love, with Barry McGovern directed by Michael Colgan at the O'Reilly Theatre; and the Gate will have Christopher Hampton's translation of Florian Zeller's The Father.

For the second year running, an opera is likely to be a huge draw: the daddy of them all, Mozart's great Don Giovanni will be directed by Gavin Quinn and conducted by Fergus Sheil at the Gaiety, with David Kempster singing the Don, and Tara Erraught as Elvira.

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