Sunday 15 December 2019

Outsiders, love and violence at this theatre festival

Love/Hate's Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in Our Few And Evil Days at the Abbey
Love/Hate's Tom Vaughan-Lawlor in Our Few And Evil Days at the Abbey

The Dublin Theatre Festival begins on Thursday week. The best shows will sell out, so here are some highlights: get booking (at www.dublintheatrefestival.com).

This play is the thing:

My parents never quite recovered from seeing a Romanian version of Hamlet at the theatre festival in which, to their ears, the hero was called Omelette. Such can be the pitfalls of foreign-language theatre.

This year's flagship show is a production of Hamlet by Berlin's legendary Schaubühne theatre. An acclaimed international hit directed by one of the leading names in world theatre, Thomas Ostermeier, this Hamlet seems likely to be more robust.

Ostermeier turned German theatre on its head in his 20s; now in his 40s, he doesn't appear to have slowed or calmed down.

His Hamlet is performed by just six actors, and they don't quite stick to the script. It looks wild and entertaining. (There are clips on YouTube.)

With any luck, we'll all be outraged. (September 25-27 at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.)

Outsiders from Down Under:

The extraordinary theatre company Back to Back returns to Dublin as part of an Australian season.

The company have (or, as they say, are perceived to have) intellectual disabilities - they are "outsiders," they say.

Their show Small Metal Objects was staged outdoors at the IFSC in 2007: it was beautiful, subversive, eye-opening.

They're back with Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, a story that travels from Hindu mythology to the Holocaust to "meta-theatre" and the story of a theatre company making a show.

It received a rave review from the Guardian at Edinburgh; precedent suggests it could be stunning. (October 1-4 at the O'Reilly Theatre.)

Take me up to Monto:

Anu Productions bring audiences into private spaces in the North Inner City for intimate confrontations with the dark corners of the city's history. Their work manages to be both abrasive and beautiful.

Vardo is the final instalment in their Monto Cycle, staged over the past three years at the festival. It may be the most significant series of theatre works the city has witnessed since the emergence of Brian Friel and Tom Murphy.

The only shame is that tickets have been so hard to get, because audience capacity is tiny. (I know, because I have sometimes failed to get them.)

Vardo brings their historical cycle up to the present day, telling the story of the undocumented workers who help drive the city's economy. (September 23 to October 12 at Oonagh Young Gallery.)

Love and hatred at the Abbey:

Mark O'Rowe and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor first teamed up for last year's hit revival of his play Howie The Rookie (being revived again at the Olympia for a week in November).

They're reunited for O'Rowe's new play, his first for the Abbey stage, Our Few and Evil Days, where they're joined by a stellar cast of Sinéad Cusack, Ciarán Hinds, Charlie Murphy and Ian Lloyd Anderson.

O'Rowe's violence of imagery and language have made him a seminal force in contemporary Irish theatre.

This is a big moment for the Abbey (September 26 to October 25).

Far from Moscow:

The problem with 'experimental' theatre is that that description of it is so off-putting. Pan Pan Theatre Company are Ireland's leading experimental company: their chief achievement has been to prove how entertaining experiment can be.

They have previously staged Hamlet with an audience vote, schoolboys and a great dane (in The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane); and Oedipus as the story of an incestuous suburban garage rock band (in Oedipus Loves You).

The Seagull and Other Birds is their take on Anton Chekhov's classic, interweaving a concise version of The Seagull with short new works commissioned by the company. (September 25 to October 5 at Project Arts Centre.)

The rest is not silence:

And there's much more on offer, including a double bill by Tom Murphy, for Druid, which I'll be writing about next week.

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