What to book now for Dublin Theatre Festival 2016

Tickets for this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival go on sale for the general public this morning at 10am and I am making plans – what to see, when to see it, what to book now and what to book later. My early booking is financially strategic; if I don’t book my Festival shows now, I’ll spend all my money at the Fringe and by October I’ll be too broke to see anything.

I really like the Dublin Theatre Festival and I want to see as much as I can. It’s a great opportunity to experience theatre from other parts of the world, as well as seeing big shows from Irish companies. It’s also a chance to see a crazy amount of theatre in a short space of time. Following so quickly after Fringe, this can be a bit head-melting. But in a good way.

Here are some of my early booking picks:

These rooms by Anu & Cois Ceim
This one I’ll definitely be grabbing a ticket for. It’s on in a couple of houses in Dorset Street and capacity is limited. Some shows has already sold out, and I’d be surprised if the entire run isn’t fully booked before the Theatre Festival opens on September 29th. It’s a collaboration between Anu Productions and Cois Ceim and focuses on the experiences of the civilians who were caught up in the 1916 Rising.

Guerrilla by El Conde de Torrefiel
I have my eye on this one because I spend a lot of time in Spain but I haven’t actually seen any Spanish theatre, and this sounds a bit odd and interesting. A lot of the international shows have very short runs at the festival – this one is only on for three performances.

The Seagull by Corn Exchange
This is on in the Gaiety so tickets are unlikely to be gone too soon. I really like The Seagull. I’ve seen it a few times in various productions and I read a couple of different translations for an essay in college. It’s very funny and also has lots of fierce, ballsy female characters in it. Though things don’t generally end well for them and their existence tends to revolve around the men, they are still great characters in their own right. I’m also a big fan of Corn Exchange who make visually exciting theatre. I’m also a big fan of the two (female) cast members announced already – Derbhle Crotty and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman – so I think it will be a hot ticket this year. Tickets for the Gaiety are not cheap, but this play by this company – I think it will be worth it.

Alien Documentary by Una McKevitt
I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about this show for the last couple of years so I’ve very excited to see the finished product. It’s on in The Cube in Project for nearly two weeks. Long run but a small venue and I think it will be popular.

Crisis Meeting by Kriðpleir and LÓKAL Performing Arts
This is a show from an Icelandic theatre company about writing an application for arts funding. I’m curious to see if you can make an engaging show about arts admin and if the company do manage to oscillate “anarchy, sitcom and Beckettian gravity” as their blurb claims. If you don’t fancy the risk on that one, there are a couple of other Northern European shows in the programme – you might prefer the “epic and vaudevillesque” style of Wishful Beginnings by VERK Produksjoner from Norway or the “switch between dance and  scattered questioning” is This is Not a Love Story by Swede Gunilla Heilborn.

It’s definitely worth booking something a little bit outside your comfort zone. It’s what festival’s are for!

summerdream

I have mixed feelings about booking a ticket for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Bord Gais. Again, it’s a play that I like and it looks like a fun, playful production but I’m not a fan of seeing theatre in the grand scale of the Bord Gais. I’ve been spoilt by all our wonderful intimate theatre spaces in Dublin.

I’m also on the fence about It’s Not Over, THEATREclub’s vision of The Plough and The Stars by Sean O’Casey. Do I want to see another production of the The Plough? Can I sit through a four and a half hour production of The Plough? I’m not sure.

I’m willing to be persuaded about both of these, and probably most of the other festival offerings. Is there anything else I should have on my early bird booking list? What’s on your list?

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Friday Five: Spring is in the Air

SpringI don’t know about you but I am ready for winter to be over. I’ve had enough of the cold weather and the dark evenings. Recently there have been some small hints that maybe spring is on it’s way. There’s that stretch in the evenings and the colourful crocuses poking up out of the grass. So here are five things that are all about looking forward to spring and summer.

  1. Be a tourist in your own town. Now is a good time to do this before everywhere gets too crowded with real tourists. Visit museums and art galleries and pretend to be on holiday. If the weather is being cooperative, get outside and wander around Glasnevin Cemetary or the Botanic Gardens. Or if you’re free during the week, take advantage of the free Wednesdays at the OPW heritage sites. On the first Wednesday of every month, there is free admission to all their sites. In Dublin this includes the state apartments at Dublin Castle, Kilmainham jail and the Casino at Marino. Here is the full list of sites.
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  3. While we’re on the subject of museums, and I know I’ve already mentioned it once or twice here before, but I finally got down to Collins Barracks to see PALS last week and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is a beautiful and heart-breaking show. It focuses on one group of men, the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who had played rugby together before heading out to the doomed military operation in Gallipoli. Their stories are told with all the emotion and immersion that I’ve come to expect from an ANU show. They manage to deliver small, gentle moments and big, swooping world-changing ones, and both can be equally heart-breaking. It’s a gorgeous show, go see it.
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  5. Beer gardens are another joy of summer and while the weather might not be suitable just yet, that’s not stopping Project Arts Centre from celebrating their newly done-up beer garden on Friday, March 6th from 6pm. They are promising some super value drinks promotions, tasty pizzas and Siobhan Kane on the decks. And if you’re still there at 8pm, you can head in to see Carmel Winter’s new play Witness.
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  7. Summer is a good time to get together with friends. Get the Boat to Vote is an initiative to encourage recent emigrants to come home for the Marriage Referendum on May 22nd by making it a bit of a occasion! Tell your friends living aboard, tell them to sign up, come home and then plan a party for all those returning emigrants.
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  9. And one last shout-out to the Collaborations festival which is now in it’s final week. There are still lots of great shows to see and there is a great buzz around Smock Alley with so much on. It’s been an absolute pleasure to be part of it and I’m hoping to see some shows next week, once we’ve done our final show of In Protest Of… tonight.

Friday Five: Festival favourites and sold-out shows.

1. I hope you got your ticket for the 24 Hour Plays on Sunday because, as predicted it has sold out, though it’s might be worth trying for returns on the night. You can also make a donation to Dublin Youth Theatre here. I am the Props Manager for the show – who knows what I’ll be sent out to find on Sunday morning!

2. A few festival favourites have returned for another run. Riverrun is on in Project until Sunday, Lippy is on in the Peacock until February 14th and A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing opens in Project next Wednesday, February 4th. It’s great to get a second chance to see shows that you missed during the busy festival season.

3. But if brand new work is more your thing, there’s lots of that at Collaborations which runs from February 18th to March 7th. There are over 60 shows in this year’s festival so it’s worth having a look at the programme – there will be something there that will tickle your fancy. Early Bird tickets are available until February 11th.

4. And for those who want to make new work, the Tiger Dublin Fringe are accepting applications for their 2015 festival now. The information sessions are on February 10th at 6pm and the closing date for applications is March 13th.

5. Last week I went along to the Abbey’s Theatre of War Symposium. It was a mind-blowing few days with speakers from all over the world, talking about the beginnings of wars, the day-to-day experiences in a war zone and the aftermaths of conflict. They also talked about art and artists responses to war. As far as I know, the Abbey will be uploading all the talks in the next couple of weeks so I’ll let you know when that goes live. In the meantime, ANU launched their new show PALS – The Irish at Gallipoli this week. It’s about the 7th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during World War 1. It’s starts next week and will run Wednesday – Sunday until the end of April. Book now because it will sell out!

My six theatre highlights from 2014

A lot of the end of year theatre wrap-up that I’ve read over the last couple of weeks started with the number of shows that person went to see and the number of venues they visited. I don’t have have those figures for you. I didn’t count and I stopped saving ticket stubs years ago. I don’t review shows for a living, I barely even review them here any more, so these are just my personal faves. They may not be biggest or best shows of the year but they are the ones that stuck with me.

  1. In December, Dublin Oldschool blew me away. I saw one of the last shows in Project – the matinee they added when everything else sold out – so I’d heard everyone raving about it for ages before I saw it ,and I still loved it. I loved the speedy dialogue and the pace of the show, the story was told well with a nice combination of dialogue and narrative and I really liked the attention to detail – the lighting, the way the mics were used, the glitter. The two performers did a terrific job. It’s a really full-on show – I was impressed by their stamina alone! It’s a real rollercoaster of a show and just great fun. There will be another run of Dublin Oldschool, produced by Project Arts Centre but I’m not sure when. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you go next time!
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  3. Has anyone written a “best of theatre list” this year that didn’t include Ballyturk? This was another one that managed to live up to the hype. A lot of people I talked to about the show said they didn’t know what it was about or even if they really liked it but they are still impressed by the performances or the dance routines or the set. The combination of fantastic, over-the-top, sometimes slap-stick performances and this weird, twisty play about life and death really worked for me. Landmark Productions had an incredible year and I’m so happy for them. I’m also looking forward to The Walworth Farce next week.
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    Quad
    Quad

  5. Pan Pan’s Quad was part of the Dublin Dance Festival but it was originally a television play by Beckett. (You can find those performances on YouTube.) He said it should never be performed in the theatre but Pan Pan got around this by making it a performance lecture. There was a mathematician who talked about other maths problems in Beckett’s writing, with a white board to work out the maths and vegetables for some reason – I can’t remember what the vegetables were for. The actual performance of the piece was hypnotic and strangely peaceful to watch but I really enjoyed the whole crazy set-up. It reminded me of being in college – it probably helps that the Space Upstairs in Project is a bit like a lecture hall – and learning interesting but ultimately useless information.
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  7. The fact that NOW-THEN-NOW is on my best of list is further proof that I am a giant theatre nerd at heart. This was the ANU symposium as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. I have been enjoying ANU’s work for so long and it was a great chance to look back at all the pieces of the Monto cycle, how they came about, how they relate to each other and to hear about the actors experiences performing the various pieces. I really enjoyed the two days and a big thank you to ANU and CREATE for doing it.
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    CARE
    CARE

  9. CARE by WillFredd was about hospice care. I’ve had relations who went into hospices and hospitals and others who died at home and I think end of life care is a huge topic that should be given more attention that it gets. CARE was a beautiful insight into the work that is done in hospices and the wonderful service they provide. It had a really light touch and managed to focus on the workers in a way that didn’t excluding the patient. Nobody took on the role of the patient and yet the entire show was about them. It was a wonderful combination of non-naturalistic scenes, musical interludes and jokes about cake. It was excellent.
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  11. I also have to include Singlehood on this list because it’s the show I spent most of the year talking and thinking about and a show that I enjoyed a lot!

DTF 2014 and other festivals

DTF2014

I really enjoyed this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. I saw great Irish and international shows over the two and a bit weeks. Here is a handful of my favourite things.

1. A German Hamlet that reminded me of Rik Mayall. Schaubühne’s Hamlet was modern and contemporary and very, very German. It looked amazing with a wet, mucky set and a giant curtain of chains that doubled up as a projection screen. This Hamlet was allowed be funny and silly, particularly when he addressed the audience directly but within the play’s text as well. The show created a very clear world for these characters and the costumes worked supplement that and to help the six actors portray the twenty plus characters in the play! The last Hamlet I saw was also in the Dublin Theatre Festival – the Wooster Group’s Hamlet in 2012. (I also saw Playing the Dane in the festival in 2010. It’s a popular play!) Now I’m ready to take a break from this tragic hero for a while!

2. So many female stories. The festival were awash with magnificent female performers. From the incredible talents of Marie Mullen, Catherine Walsh and Aisling O’Sullivan in Druid’s production of Bailegangaire at the Gaiety, to Aoife Dunffin’s spell-binding performance in A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, to the wonderful cast of Vardo to the grumpiest Masha I’ve ever seen in Pan Pan’s The Seagull and Other Birds. Lots of different women, telling lots of different stories.

3. The internationality of it. In the O’Reilly Theatre I saw an Australian show about an Indian elephant god who travels to Germany to rescue the Swastika from the Nazi’s. Ganesh Versus The Third Reich was a wonderful show crammed full of ethical and dramatic questions, as well as fantastic performances. I feel lucky to have seen a show that was made on the other side of the world. Another show in the Australian Season, Jack Charles V The Crown also looked at persecution but was much more about Australian life.

4. Two wonderful days with ANU talking and thinking about the Monto Cycle. As well as being lucky enough to get a ticket for Vardo, I also attended the two-day conference NOW-THEN-NOW, presented by ANU Productions and Create. It was a fascinating two days hearing about the five-year project, and it managed a good balance between academic views on the work and the cast and audience’s experiences from inside the work. We also had the chance to experience a condensed version of all four pieces (World’s Ends Lane, Laundry, Boys of Foley Street and Vardo) on the streets around the Lab. It was a very enjoyable couple of days.

5. Talking theatre with people, at the conference, before shows and in the bar afterwards. I volunteered with the festival again this year. I think it’s my third or fourth year doing it and I keep coming back because I really enjoy it. It’s a great way to see lots of shows in the festival and you also meet people who are really enthusiastic about theatre and I love talking theatre with people.

That’s a condensed version of my festival. If I included everything I saw and loved, this post would be very long and I want to write a little bit of two festivals starting today. Just in case you were feeling festival withdrawal!

Prototype is a festival of play and interaction and it’s happening in Project Arts Centre today and tomorrow. It’s run by the same people who brought you Journey to the End of the Night and it features talks and workshops as well as lots of games. Tickets for the Playground and access to all the games are €10 for one night and €15 for both nights, and there are different games available on each night. You can book tickets and get more information on Project’s website.

Also starting today is the spoken word festival Lingo. It’s happening Friday to Sunday in Smock Alley Theatre,The Workman’s Club and The Liquor Rooms.

And for something completely different – the Dublin Cocktail Festival is also on at the moment and finished tomorrow.

In Praise of Anu

I didn’t mention Louise Lowe or Anu Productions in my last post on female theatre makers and that felt like an omission. I certainly count Louise Lowe among the female theatre-makers making strong, relevant work over the last number of years, but I hadn’t seen enough of Thirteen to write about it.

Suasion. Photography by Patrick Redmond
Suasion. Photography by Patrick Redmond

I only saw a couple of the Thirteen pieces but I enjoyed them very much. I had heard great things about it from many people so in the final week I was delighted when I finally got a chance to go down to the basement of Liberty Hall to see Suasion. It was set during the Lockout and we saw real people like PT Daly, Jim Larkin, Rosie Hackett and Helena Moloney brought to life at a trade union meeting in 1913. I got a strong sense of the various battles, big and small, that were being fought during that period. I loved that we were in the real place where those things took place and that the actors spoke directly to us.

That short, 45-minute piece of theatre really reminded me how strong Anu’s work is. I was hugely impressed by Boys of Foley Street and Laundry in the last couple of years and impressed in the literal sense of the word in that they left their impression on me; I am slightly changed from having seen that work. After I missed Living the Lockout on Henrietta Street, I was determined to see as much of Thirteen as I could, but then I got busy and suddenly I was working on two shows and time became less and less available. I’m glad I saw Suasion and I also managed to see Backwash and Soup, which were equally impressive.

Fintan O’Toole wrote an article just after the Fringe, praising the work that Anu Productions are doing. In “It’s Ireland’s best public theatre, and it means our support”, he doesn’t specify what sort of support, but does mention how quickly performances sell-out – they are clearly not in need of an audience. I presume he means support from the government and other bodies who are in a position to support the arts both financially and in kind by providing space, etc. Thirteen was supported by the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Dublin City Council, The LAB and the Irish Congress Trade Unions, DCTV and Fishamble; The New Play Company’s New Play Clinic. The tickets for Thirteen were free, which I’m sure was a conscience decision – why make a piece of theatre about the poorest people in the city and then restrict those who can see it with ticket cost? I think it would have been nice to allow the audience to support the company financially by passing the hat at the end of each performance. This voluntary contribution could have fit in nicely in some pieces – a bucket labelled “Support for the Strikers” perhaps? So often at the end of Anu productions there is no space for applause. This would allow the audience to show their appreciation and help the company to continue to make ground-breaking work.

As well as making imaginative and visceral theatre, the work the Anu makes is unapologetically political. It’s interesting that a major protest brought the city to a stand-still during the Fringe. I wonder if there was any connection to the Thirteen performances, which all evoked the spirit of the Lockout. I also thought it was maybe slightly short-sighted of the government to spend a lot of money celebrating the 1913 Lockout, then later in the year cutting benefits to the elderly, the under-26s, expectant mothers and those requiring help from the State because disability or long term illness. Are they not worried that they might be encouraging revolution?

Another possible way of supporting Anu’s work would be to answer their call to arms; to rise up and demand justice against greedy bankers, to revolt against corrupt systems that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Russell Brand’s interview on Newsnight last week sparked a lot of discussion about revolution. Is it possible for people power to change the world? I think the history of the Lock-Out shows that it is, though it is a long, slow battle. But it is possible in the 21st century? Are we just too apathetic now? Has capitalism and consumerism dulled our senses? Are we all just comfortable enough not to make a fuss? Will Anu Productions succeed in shaking us out of apathy? They are certainly doing their best and we should support them in that goal.

Theatre in 2012

I saw a lot of theatre this year, through college in the first half of the year and volunteering at the festivals in the autumn, but I still feel like there’s a lot that I missed. This is not a list of the ‘best of Irish theatre’ in 2012. This is a list of my personal favourites from the year.

Silent, Pat Kinevane and Fishamble
I’ve already written about some of the things I love about Silent but this 90-minute one-man play really is a complete tour de force. The LA Times described it as “Krapp’s Last Tape performed by Madonna” which is a pretty accurate description! A lot of the joy in this piece is found in Pat Kinevane’s performance. His portrayal of homeless McGoldrick, who once had splendid things, is so enthusiastic and full of fun. You don’t expect a story of homelessness and helplessness to be so funny, and this surprise adds another layer of joy to the piece.

Silent was Fishamble’s original Show in a Bag and the minimalist approach to set and props serve the story well. The story is engaging and well-told and touching without being sentimental. I saw it for the first time in the Town Hall Theatre in Galway early last year. Immediately after the show, I was eager to see it again and wanted to bring so many people to see it with me. I haven’t managed to do that yet. I missed it in the Peacock during the summer and in Smock Alley a couple of weeks ago, but I’m hoping to see it again before the year is out. The show is off to Australia this month but will be back touring Ireland in March.

Tiny Plays for Ireland, Fishamble
This is another Fishamble production and it was a fantastically ambitious project that was wonderfully executed. It started this time last year when Fishamble sent out a call in September 2011 for “tiny plays”, no more than 600 words. The response was huge and Fishamble received over 1,700 entries. The final production – twenty-five tiny plays in the space of an hour, on the same set with the same actors – was done so beautifully and so simply that it actually did create a snap-shot of the Ireland. With a clever use of costume and a few wigs, the cast manage to play teenagers, married couples and elder statesmen convincingly. Seeing the quick changes and multiple characters was part of the enjoyment of the production. There was a wonderful mix of comedy and heart-break in the production as a whole, and sometimes even in the same short play.

Because of the huge numbers of entries received and the high quality of the writing, Fishamble put together a second collection of plays and Tiny Plays 2 opens in the Project Arts Centre in March. It’s something worth seeing even if you are not a regular theatre goer or know someone who you want to encourage into the theatre! The little snippets mean that if you don’t like what’s going on onstage right now, there’ll be something different along in a minute. I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

The Mothers Arms, Little John Nee
I saw this show last January in the Town Hall Theatre. It was the first play we went to see as part of our reviewing class and so it was the first thing I had to review for that class. It was a tricky review to write because I really loved the show but found it difficult to find words to describe what happened on stage or why I enjoyed it so much.

I went in to the show knowing nothing at all about Little John Nee and came out a life-long fan. It was a joyous piece of theatre set in a the public house of the title, somewhere in the wilds of Donegal and involved lots of music and a far amount of silliness. Little John Nee is another wonderful performer and a joy to watch as he switched between seven or eight different characters. I laughed my head off and had a wonderful evening. I have yet to see his follow-up show Sparkplug but I am keeping an eye out for it and reccommend you do the same. (It is also nominated for an Irish Theatre Award for great Sound Design.)

Alice in Funderland, thisispopbaby and the Abbey Theatre
I’ll keep this brief because I’ve already written loads about Alice on this blog but it really was one of my favourite things of 2012. I often think of it when I’m sitting in the Abbey before a show, wishing there were twinkling glitter balls on the ceiling. (I’m very partial to a bit of disco ball action.) It was unlike anything else I’ve seen on the Irish stage. It really had more in common with a West End musical in the brash, brightness of the production and the slick song and dance routines. But at the same time there was a very Irish sense of humour running through and some truly beautiful songs.

Boys of Foley Street, ANU Productions
I didn’t find Boys of Foley Street quite as harrowing as last year’s Laundry, perhaps I’d been working in the Lab for two days before I saw the show so I had some idea of what to expect. However it was a visceral and heart-breaking piece of theatre, with fantastic performances.

The time spent in the flat was particularly terrifying. Much of the piece took place out on the street, so suddenly finding yourself trapped in the small flat was a bit of a shock. Seeing the hidden, private lives of people trapped by drugs and poverty made me feel helpless. The performers so in your face that you felt trapped. It was completely immersive and left me feeling sakend and disjointed.

The final piece of ANU’s Foley Street project Vardo Corner will be in Gypsy Rose’s caravan, which I imagine will have a similar terrifying claustrophobia to it!

A Doll House, Pan Pan
This was the first production I saw in the newly renovated Smock Alley main stage. I thought the round, almost Shakespearean sitting suited it beautifully. I’d read A Doll’s House for the first time last year so it was fresh in my mind. Though it’s one of those plays that I’d been aware of for years. I really enjoyed Judith Roddy’s Nora – her manic energy and childish glee in the early scenes of the play were wonderful to watch and captured Nora’s character beautiful. Pan Pan manage to be both playful and academic in their interruption of classic texts and this was no exception. The nanny takes on the role of academic analysing the play but also plays games with Nora instead of her small children.

Pan Pan have a gift for putting their own unique and memorable stamp on classical plays. For example when I think of Hamlet, I think of a Great Dane called Toby and their production of Everyone is King Lear in Their Own Home means that when I see King Lear at the Abbey next month, I’ll probably walk out with a song about “a little mouse with clogs on” stuck in head. And I will probably always hear some of the lines from A Doll’s House in the Batman voice. In a glorious twist, Torvald goes to neighbour’s costume party as Batman and when he has his confrontation with Nora, he is still in full Batman mode. No matter how familiar you are with a text, PanPan force you to see it in a fresh way. But despite this playfulness, they also have a devotion to and respect for the text. And this was seen in the climax of the play when the actors lay in separate pools of light, on opposite sides of the stage and said their lines slowly and carefully, so that all the meaning had time to sink in and we could see their relationship slowly folding itself up and disappearing. It was beautifully done.

That’s my short (and very late) wrap up of my favourite 2012 theatre. I’ve been lucky enough to see some wonderful work already this year and I will be writing about that here soon.

Dublin Theatre Festival 2012: The Boys of Foley Street

I find Anu Productions a little bit frightening. I admire their work hugely, I think they are one of the most exciting Irish companies making work right now but I would still be wary about recommending an Anu show to someone. I would be wary about going to see it myself! I was glad I went to see Laundry in last years Dublin Theatre Festival because it felt important to recognise what went on in the Magdalene laundries and to act as a witness to what those women went though. It was also a beautifully realised piece of theatre that was heart-breaking and incredibly moving.

Despite that, I was still in two-minds about whether to see The Boys of Foley Street. I wasn’t sure if I was up to it. I knew it was out on the streets and I knew World’s End Lane, situated in the same area, had been a fairly harrowing experience. My first few shifts as a festival volunteer were at the Lab, doing Front of House for the show. Seeing the audience members coming back looking a bit subdued and slightly shell-shocked didn’t really reassure me.

Then I got a ticket out of the blue and it’s hard to say no to a free ticket so off I went. It knew a little bit about what was coming from hanging being in the Lab but it was still quite an experience. The performers take you away to a different time and place and you’re pulled out and moved through those places quickly, urgently. The women in Laundry shyly beckoned you into a room, here you’re told to “Move! Move! Faster!” and you do it because you don’t know what else to do. You want to be a good audience member so you do what you’re told; stand where you’re told to stand, look where you’re told to look. And all this doing and looking makes you complicit with the terrible things that happen on on the streets and in the back alleys and the flats.

Everyone is looking after themselves as best they can and because that’s not easy, they don’t have time to look after anyone else. As an audience member, it’s all too easy to slip into this frame of mind.

The cast is so good and there performances so accomplished and so natural that it all feels frighteningly real. Laundry felt like it was performed by ghosts but here the performances are more corporeal and much more in your face. You go into a grim little flat at the back of Foley Street and it feels like going back in time. You only spend 10 or 15 minutes there (maybe more, maybe less – time is hard to judge as you’re are ordered in and out of cars and rooms and lives) but it’s a heart-breaking glimpse into these people’s lives. You can see their past and their future expanding on either side and it’s depressing and so hard to see. Leaving is difficult because you feel like you are betraying them but at the same time, you are so glad that you have the option.

The characters and stories explored in Boys of Foley Street feel very current. After the show, it can be difficult to tell the different between the actors and the inhabitants of the area. It stays with you when you leave.

The work is important and political and terrifying at times. The actors, who performed 20 times a day for the entire length of the festival, astound me. Their performances are so strong and so believable that it feels like a privilege to witness it. Next year I will be first in the queue to get a ticket for the final part of Anu’s Monto quadrilogy. I’m looking forward to it already.