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The stage is set for a feast of th eatre goodies

Between Arthur's Day, the Dublin Fringe Festival and Culture Night, Dubliners have been spoiled with an embarrassment of arts-related riches this month. And the fun doesn't stop there, now that the much-loved Dublin Theatre Festival kicks off this weekend.

A highpoint in Ireland's arts calendar since 1957, the DTF is a celebration of Dublin's evergreen theatre scene. From Roddy Doyle and Seamus Heaney to Brian Friel and Sebastian Barry, anyone who is someone has showcased their work here. We have one of the most innovative and vibrant theatre communities in the world, and the next fortnight is about showing it off. Here are some of the must-see productions that everyone is already talking about.

1 Talk Of The Town

Project Arts Centre, September 27--October 14,

€25-¤30

In certain circles, Ranelagh lass Maeve Brennan (played by Catherine Walker, right) is a legend, not least because she managed to conquer the Manhattan literati while writing at The New Yorker in the 1950s. In fact, it has long been speculated that Brennan was the inspiration for Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany's.

Hailed by New York society as a clever beauty, she eventually suffered from mental illness, became homeless and slept in the women's toilet of The New Yorker in the 1970s. In the 1980s she had vanished from public view, and remains one of our most overlooked literary treasures. Written by Emma Donoghue (author of the bestselling Room), Talk Of The Town brings this mysterious figure to life.

2 Dubliners

Gaiety Theatre,

September 27-30,

€10-€35

Almost 100 years after publication, James Joyce's short stories are as popular as ever. Little wonder that theatre company The Corn Exchange has sought to bring the familiar and much-loved stories to the stage. It's a lavish and modern production, performed by a cast of 10 in ground-breaking style. Among those in the cast are theatre favourites Derbhle Crotty, Barbara Bergin and Mark O'Halloran (inset below right). Definitely one of the hottest tickets of the fortnight.

3 Pineapple

The Lir Theatre,

October 3-7.

€15-€20

If you enjoyed the campy fun of Alice In Funderland or the jaw-dropping drama in Fringe hit Elevator, you'll love playwright Phillip McMahon's offering. First produced last year, Pineapple recounts the story of two sisters in a rundown Ballymun flat. Roxana is a self-centred party animal, while Paul lives for others. Already hailed by critics as bittersweet but bitingly funny, Pineapple has all the hallmarks of McMahon's modern, incisive writing. Stars Neili Conroy and Caoilfhionn Dunne.

4 The Picture

Of Dorian Gray

Abbey Theatre,

September 27--October 14,

€18-€40

No celebration of Dublin theatre would be complete without Oscar Wilde. His work gets a radical, 21st-century overhaul here. Dorian Gray was as beautiful as he was debauched, and he remains one of Wilde's most resonant characters.

Director Neil Bartlett brought Wilde's An Ideal Husband to the Abbey in 2008 to rapturous reception, so the smart money says that this will be as inventive and acclaimed a production.

5 Druid Murphy

Gaiety Theatre,

October 2-13, €20-€35 (€48-€84 for all three shows)

Regular theatregoers might have enjoyed Murphy's unmissable play The House in the Abbey recently.

Now, the playwright will be celebrated with three of his greatest plays. Conversations On A Homecoming, A Whistle In The Dark and Famine have one common theme; Irish emigration. The three plays cover a vast period from the Great Hunger in the 19th century to the brain drain of the 1970s.

The cast for this trio is illustrious, including acting favourites like Rory Nolan, Garrett Lombard, Marie Mullen and Eileen Walsh.

6 The Select

(The Sun Also Rises), O'Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, Dublin 1

September 27-30,

€30-€35

Elevator Repair Service are one of the most celebrated theatre ensembles in their native New York, and they've recently made headlines worldwide with Gatz; an eight-hour adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

This year, their Dublin Theatre Festival production is just as ambitious, if not as mind-bendingly long.

The Select is an adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's novel, focusing on the mixed fortunes of a group of American expats in post WW1 Europe as they roam from Paris to Pamplona in a world of boozy romanticism.

7 Everyone Is King Lear In His Own Home

Smock Alley Theatre, September 28-October 6, €15-€25

The Pan Pan Theatre Company is renowned for taking classic pieces and giving them an inimitable spin. Most recently, they took Ibsen's A Doll's House, gave it a Celtic Tiger makeover and turned the entire thing on its head. This time, Shakespeare's King Lear gets the Pan Pan treatment. Andrew Bennett and Judith Roddy (inset left) are cast as the father and daughter at the centre of the action. Take it from us; you might have seen Shakespeare in your time, but never like this.

8 The Last Summer

Gate Theatre, September 27 -- October 13, €25-€35

Anyone who spent the summer after their Leaving Cert in a fog of fun and rock'n'roll (that'll be most of us) will find much to love in this contemporary play. Set in the 1970s and the present day, The Last Summer is about four friends who plan their first gig in a local disco ahead of receiving their Leaving Cert results. Fast forward to the present day, and emigration, family, marriage and the banking crisis mean that things are much different for the gang. Written by Declan Hughes, it also features a soundtrack of cracking rock classics to bring us back to our sepia-tinted youth.

9 The Boys Of Foley Street

the LAB at Foley Street, September 27-October 13, €13-18

If you like your theatre with a helping of social history, make haste to the LAB for this immersive journey through Foley Street. ANU Productions bring this part of the north inner city to life through intimate encounters, installation and cutting-edge technology.

The Boys Of Foley Street is the third instalment of the four-part Monto Cycle, which seeks to explore the secret history of the city. The show is an exploration of the area spanning from 1971-1981, and it's not always pretty; the production recounts how recession and poverty fuelled crime and aggression in the area. Suffice to say that this site-specific play is as ambitious as it is enthralling.

10 Halcyon Days

Smock Alley Theatre,

October 9-14, €15-€25

Deirdre Kinahan is a name familiar to many Dublin theatre goers, as the writer of the critically acclaimed Boyboy. This time around, her play charts the friendship between nursing home residents Sean and Patricia. Halcyon Days bears the same warm, tender and funny writing as Kinahan's previous works. As an added bonus, it stars theatre stalwarts Anita Reeves and Stephen Brennan.

For more information, log on to www.dublintheatrefestival.com


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