Saturday 16 December 2017


Stephen Merchant

Eamon SweeneyPat O'Kelly

Vicar St, Dublin

"One of the reasons I'm doing stand-up comedy is that I don't have to share any money I make with you know who," Stephen Merchant candidly states at the beginning of his first stage appearance in Dublin.

The co-creator of The Office and Extras does not share the same ubiquity as his notorious partner-in-crime Ricky Gervais, but his first solo tour Hello Ladies establishes Merchant as the superior stand-up comedian hands down.

Gervais can milk the arena circuit with ease but personally, I found these shows to be excruciating and an ill-advised exploitation on his almost overnight fame. Merchant materialises as the far more natural and talented comic in a live setting.

This 6ft 7in giant uses his considerable height for a predictable but effective series of gags. He also shows a snippet of a gossip column that likens his dancing to a "giant albatross hopping on stilts".

A promising parallel career certainly beckons, even if he doesn't write or act in a single sitcom show ever again. Ricky who?




The latest in the National Concert Hall's International Concert Series brings back to Dublin an outstanding artist now in the autumn of her glittering career.

With her voluptuous voice Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has graced the stages of the world's leading opera houses.

Her carefully chosen programme here, with the versatile RTECO under conductor Patrik Ringborg, creates a wistful atmosphere.

Pamina's 'Ach ich fuhl's' from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte finds Dame Kiri's voice somewhat restricted while Marietta's aria 'Gluck, das mir verblieb' from Korngold's enigmatic Die tote Stadt (The Dead State) shows her rising to radiant heights.

There is rarefied simplicity in Manon's 'Adieu, notre petite table' and while luminous phrasing graces Charpentier's 'Depuis le jour' it is rather prudently engineered.

Granados' 'The Maiden and the Nightingale' brings wonderful tenderness and the official programme ends with the final trio from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. Puccini's 'O mio babbino caro', heard sotto voce and with the epitome of finesse, is Dame Kiri's treasured encore.

Irish Independent

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