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.

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Free talks and classes

Fingal County Council are running free talks and classes all around Fingal as part of Writing 3.0 – Fingal’s Annual Writer’s Festival. There’s talks from Declan Burke and Thisispopbaby, as well as classes in screen-writing, song writing and rap! The full list of programmes is here and you can book your place here.

Absolut Fringe 2012

There are so many exciting shows in this year’s Fringe that it’s hard to compile a short list of favourites. Previews start today and because they’re a bit cheaper it’s usually a good time to try something new. (New shows are starting all the time so there will be previews happening throughout the festival.)

There’s also lots of returning artists who you can rely on for a good show, such as Thisispopbaby, The Company, THEATREclub, Una McKevitt and Talking Shop Ensemble. And there’s the Macnas parades – Rumpus and The Cockroach and the Inventor which are always worth a look, and free! You do need a ticket though, which has to be collected in person from the Box Office in Filmbase.

A limited about of time and money sadly makes it impossible to see everything I want to see, so here is my list of favourites. It’s a long list and I know I’m not going to get to everything.

Elevator
I’m really looking forward to this show. It has the same writer and director as Alice in Funderland, which I really enjoyed earlier this year, and also has songs! The plot, involving the uber-rich and a party that gets out of hand sounds intriguing.

Sparkplug
Last January I saw Little John Nee’s last show The Mothers Arms in Galway and it was one of the most enjoyable shows I saw all year. It had some amazing songs and loads of jokes. I’m hoping for more of the same from this show. And if you are in Galway, you can see The Mothers Arms in the Town Hall Theatre this week.

Anna in Between
I love the poster for this show; it’s both pretty and intriguing. Despite the pretty poster, it sounds like it will be a dark, funny show. With songs.

Farm
This is another show that I don’t know that much about but I am intrigued by. I know the company won Spirit of the Fringe last year and this show sounds ambitious and interesting. It promises to bring the countryside into the city. I want to see how they do it.

Solpadine is my Boyfriend
I love the poster and the pill packet that doubles as flyer and I like to go and see one-woman shows. This one is about growing up which feels relevant to me at the moment – turning thirty and graduating from college (again) in the same year, shouldn’t I start feeling like a grown-up soon?

Show in a Bag
Show in a Bag is back with five new shows this year, with lunchtime and evening slots at 1pm, 6pm and 8pm, all €10. The Wheelchair on My Face, which was one of last year’s shows in a bag, won the Scotsman Fringe First at this year’s Edinburgh festival. These are very good shows at a very reasonable price!

Straight to DVD
I’ve caught pieces of Ponydance’s performances over the years, a little bit at the Fringe Awards in the Speigaltent, the second half of Anybody Waiting? when they were performing it all over the city for Fringe 2010, and I’m keen to see more. Their shows seem to have a great sense of humour.

Flatpack
It’s an opera about Ikea. And like the flat-packed Swedish furniture, you have to put the pieces together yourself. It’s a promenade performance across five rooms that leaves the audience to work out how the different scenes slot together. I’ve never been to an opera before and I would be a little bit nervous of it, but this sounds fun and not too scary!

West Coast Cool
After spending a wonderful year in Galway, I had to include this is a strand of work by companies from the west of Ireland. Geography is the only thing that links them and I think there’s something for everybody among the five shows happening in Smock Alley.

Mirror, Mirror
Fairytales with aerial hoops, silks and pole dancing – what’s not to like!

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
This is another show that I’m mostly just curious about. Each day a different actor will perform a script they’ve never seen before, by an Iranian who was forbidden to leave his country. And it’s another show that’s only €10!

Believe it or not, I left things off that very long list. There’s so many great things happening that I recommend you pick up a brochure in Filmbase and spend some time looking through. I’ve have a few problems browsing the website so I recommend the physical brochure but I have a lot of problems with the website in general this year!

Often it doesn’t load properly and I just have a big black box in the middle of the screen, which such a waste of space. The text is too big. I’m sure it looked beautiful on the web designer’s huge Mac screen but on my three year old laptop, it’s really too big to be useful. The drop down menus go down below the bottom of the screen, making them very tricky to use. I don’t find the lists useful anyway. For a start, it took me at least three visits to the site before I realised that you have to make you selection and then make press the Go button. (I notice they have tried to make that clearer now.) I thought all the ‘Daring’, ‘Theatre’, ‘Political’, ‘Art’, etc listings were just broken links. I also don’t like the idea of limiting your search terms. I miss last year’s choices of ‘Shows for under a tenner’, ‘Shows to bring your Mam to’, etc. They brought up choices that I might not have seen otherwise and for me, going outside your comfort zone and seeing things you know almost nothing about is what the Fringe is for.

Pick up a brochure, take a risk on something new and step outside your comfort zone! And have a great Fringe!

Alice in Funderland at the Abbey

I’m at the Abbey Theatre to see Alice in Funderland. Finally. I’ve been looking forward to this since I saw Thisispopbaby‘s work-in-progress at the Project Arts Centre in January 2011. Even without props or set, it was a spectacular show and a wonderful night’s entertainment. I couldn’t wait to share this funny, clever show and it’s glorious songs with as many people as possible. And now fifteen months later, here we are. The entire auditorium is twinkling in the light of three spinning disco balls and a hot-pink chaise lounge sits on stage in front of a wall of gaudy blue and white wallpaper. This is the sitting room of a well-to-do Cork family. We know it’s Cork because of the framed, carefully lit photograph of Michael Collins on the wall. (Though I had to ask my Mammy who he was!) The bright, candy colours are a long way from the squalor of Juno and the Paycock‘s tenement home, which was the last show I saw on the Abbey stage.

Susannah de Wrixon as Susan in Alice in Funderland by Phillip McMahon and Raymond Scannell. Photography Richard Gilligan.
Susannah de Wrixon as Susan in Alice in Funderland by Phillip McMahon and Raymond Scannell. Photography Richard Gilligan.

I was delighted when it was announced that Alice in Funderland would be on at the Abbey. It needed a big stage and a big budget to really reach it’s full potential. It was great as a rehearsed reading at the Project but as a full-scale musical, with a full band and spectacular costumes, it would be even better. It also meant lots of people would get to see the show. The full production was shiny and sparklier and with more crazy costumes and impressive dance moves than I could have possibly imagined.

When we meet Alice (Sarah Greene), she is arguing with her Dad, who has deemed her a bad investment and is refusing to lend her any more money. Her sister Susan (Susannah de Wrixon) is preparing for her wedding and being a bit of a bridezilla. When Alice loses Susan in a Dublin night-club during her hen party, Alice suddenly find herself lost in and alone in the Big Smoke. She latches on the first familiar face she sees – a delivery boy called Warren. They share a snog on the dance floor and when he is summoned to Hartstown by someone called The Duchess, she decides to follow him.

Ian Lloyd Anderson as Taxi Driver and Sarah Greene as Alice in Alice in Funderland by Phillip McMahon and Raymond Scannell. Photography Richard Gilligan.
Ian Lloyd Anderson as Taxi Driver and Sarah Greene as Alice in Alice in Funderland by Phillip McMahon and Raymond Scannell. Photography Richard Gilligan.

Alice follows Warren and we follow Alice on her adventures through Dublin as she tries to make her way to Hartstown. Along the way she meets a patriotic Taxi Driver (Ian Lloyd Anderson, doing his best Damien Dempsey impression), The Duchess (the divine Ruth McGill) and the Minister for All Your Needs (Mark O’Regan with a bad wig and a Cheshire Cat grin). There is also a wonderful scene set on the top of Liberty Hall when Alice saves the life of The Gay (the wonderful Paul Reid on roller skates). It’s a very funny scene but also one of the most touching in the play, and finishes with a beautiful and poignant duet – We’re all on the Edge.

Despite the many clever one-liners and sly little quips to the audience, this is a show with a whole lot of heart. It’s never cynical and is as feel-good as a musical should be! There also loads of big, spectacular song-and-dance numbers, such as We’re All Going to Hartstown, which closes the first act which ends with Alice doing the splits in the centre of the stage.

But the quieter, gentler songs are also incredibly beautiful.  Hopefully writer Phillip McMahon and composer Raymond Scannell make the soundtrack available to buy as some stage in the near future. Ruth McGill and Susannah de Wrixon perform another of my favourite songs, and one that has been stuck in my head for the last 15 months, Toros in the Banal.

It’s a show that you want to send all of your friends to because it is so enjoyable. Book your tickets immediately – there’s only three weeks left and I suspect it will start selling out very soon. And once you have seen it, you’ll want to go again and again – I know I do!

Looking forward to 2012

Here are a handful of theatre related things that I am looking forward to this year.

  1. Blue Raincoat’s production of Rhinoceros at the Town Hall Theatre, February 27 – 29
    My MA class did a two-day workshop in corporeal mime with Blue Raincoat last November. I hadn’t heard of the company before that and I had no idea what corporeal mime was. It was an interesting couple of days and based on my basic knowledge Blue Raincoat’s style, I’m very interested to see what they’re like on stage.
  2. Fishamble’s Tiny Play’s for Ireland at Project, March 15 – 31
    Last year Fishamble held a competition looking for three minute plays that said something about Ireland today. They got over 1,700 entries (including one from me)! The winners haven’t been announced yet but the plays that are selected will be performed alongside tiny plays from established writers. I think it will be an interesting evening of snapshots and the audience will walk out of the theatre with their heads full of stories!
  3. Alice in Funderland at the Abbey, 30 March – 12 May
    At this stage, it probably goes without saying that I’m looking forward to this production but I thought I’d say it anyway! The show stays true to the absurd surrealism of Lewis Carroll’s original and I’m delighted that it will on at the Abbey who have the ability to bring the crazy, inventive ideas in the script to full fruition. You don’t need a huge budget to make great theatre, but sometimes it’s nice to have it! This is going to be a great show.
  4. Willie White’s first Dublin Theatre Festival, September 27 – October 14
    Willie White was the Artistic Director of Project Arts Centre for nine years before he became the new Festival Director earlier this year. As you can probably tell from this blog, that Project is very favourite theatre in Dublin. There’s always at least one thing in their programme that I’m dying to see. It’s also more than just a venue as they offered great support to new artists over the last few years with the Project Catalysts and Project Brand New.
  5. The House directed by Annabelle Comyn at the Abbey, 7 June – 14 July
    Annabelle Comyn directed last year’s production of Pygmalion at the Abbey that I loved and I’ve recently discovered Tom Murphy’s plays so I’m interested in seeing this show. Murphy was the first playwright on our list of Irish Playwrights since the 60s and that was my first proper introduction to his work. Before that I’d seen The Last Days of the Reluctant Tyrant but I didn’t really like it. I read The Famine for class (which will be performed as part of Druid’s Murphy cycle later this year) and found it a dark and brutal play. A lot of his work seems to be a bit grim. I also saw the DramSoc’s production of The Morning After Optimism last year, which was a very strange but enjoyable play. Slowly but surely, Tom Murphy is winning me round and I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work.

Best of 2011

This list was going to be a top ten but there were too many performances that tied for 10th place that I couldn’t choose one. I decided to leave it at nine because these all had a little something extra that meant they stayed with me long after I left the theatre (or other site-specific location!)

Here are nine of my favourite theatre experiences this year:

  1. Way back at the beginning of 2011, I was lucky enough to see the work in progress preview of Thisispopbaby‘s Alice in Funderland. It was a musical with vivid characters, great songs and loads of jokes. I loved it. I saw it with a friend who, since then has asked me at least 23 times since then when the full production will take place. When can we go see it again? I was just as eager because there are so many people I want to see this wonderful show. I’m delighted that it has a long run at the Abbey later this year and I will be able to drag lots of people along to enjoy it!
  2. Another show that moved from the Project to the Abbey was The Company‘s As you are now so once were we which was part of the 2010 Fringe Festival and was in the Peacock earlier this year. It’s a bit of a cheat to have it in this year’s favourites but I was delighted to see it again. It was such a joyous piece of theatre and I’m glad it got more than just a week at the Fringe. It toured to LA in June as part of Imagine Ireland and the run even included a performance on Bloomsday!
  3. I’ve mentioned I Am a Homebird (It’s Very Hard) a few times on this blog this year. (The main review is here.) I first saw it in February as part of The Theatre Machine Turns You On, Volume II and then went back to see the full, finished piece later in the year. It was a moving piece of theatre that I loved so much that I wrote a short piece about it for one of my college courses.
  4. Mimic was a one-man show that completely absorbed you in it’s dystopian world. It was a little bit like Forced Entertainment’s Void Story, but was also completely different with music and impressions and little bits of songs.
  5. Because I am likely to get excited about new writing than old, there are very few things on my list by dead playwrights but Pygmalion at the Abbey was excellent. It was performed at the Abbey for the first time this year and it was a lavish production with a flawless cast. Everybody on stage was fantastic, the set was cunning and clever, as well as being beautiful to look at and all these elements worked together to tell a great story. I really enjoyed it.
  6. I saw another play by a dead playwright the same week I saw Pygmalion: Loose canon’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? The two were very different. Where the Abbey had a cast of sixteen all playing their own part in lavish costumes, on a wonderfully intricate and detailed set, Loose Canon has a cast of five, playing 15 characters on a bare white stage. Both had a very strong cast and both were very enjoyable. Loose Canon also had a lovely dead-pan Puck!
  7. End of the Road was a tour de force of wonderful ideas performed by a fantastically strong cast. I was astounded by the way it made interactive performance look easy.
  8. End of the Road was a Fishamble production, directed by Louise Lowe who was also in charge of a piece of theatre that I’ve already seen on many end of year lists – the heart-breakingly beautiful Laundry. I was nervous about going to see this production; partly because of the subject matter; partly because of the one-on-one nature of the piece and mostly because I’m a coward. I’m so glad I did see it though because it felt important to be a witness a this bleak chapter of Irish history. It was also a wonderful piece of theatre, moving and sad and so immersive that it took a little while to shake it off afterwards. I talked about it with my classmates afterwards; it was a piece of theatre that you wanted to talk about. It’s a wonderful example of the power and the ability of theatre to change things.
  9. I only managed to see the last hour and a half of THEATREclub’s epic six hour omnibus episode of Twenty Ten and I wish I’d seen more. I did see the first hour the previous Saturday but I suspect it gave a much better sense of the crazy ups and downs of 2010 when seen all in one go. It was an ambitious project well executed.

Absolut Fringe 2011: The Year of Magical Wanking

Neil Watkins in The Year of Magical Wanking
When Neil Watkins – the wanker of the title – first appears on stage he’s a bundle of angry energy as he rants and raves about the lack of opportunities in his life, in between detailed tales of wanking. He speaks directly to the audience and comes across as a brash, confident personality, unafraid to bear his soul. Slowly, throughout the show he begins to show us a more vulnerable man than the brash persona would suggest. He lets us in on his fears and insecurities – the difficulty of coming to terms with living with HIV, the fear shared by anyone who has been single for a long time, that maybe they are just unlovable.

One of the most intimate scenes for me was when Neil was speaking to his therapist. It’s one of the few scenes where he talks to another person instead of directly out to the audience. It felt like we were seeing a more private moment than the descriptions of wanking to hard-core porn while on a cocktail of drugs.

This is a confessional show but Neil is never looking for pity or even understanding from the audience. He tells his story from a distance, always separate from those he’s speaking to. The set design means that Neil performs on the large Project stage from inside a smaller performance space marked out on the floor in white tape. It’s another barrier between the audience and the performer. The whole show is delivered in rhyme and the reason for this given in various interviews about the show is to make an unsavoury topic a little bit more beautiful. It does succeed in this because the rhythm is lovely to listen to but I think it’s other function is to keep the audience at arm’s length. However, by the end of show all these barriers are gone and Neil speaks plainly to the audience.

It’s a fast-paced show and it’s bleak at times but with a very uplifting ending. I really enjoyed it. I got a lot out of it – that feeling that other people are just as uncertain and insecure as I am, that I’m not alone in this messed up world and that things do get better. I think that’s what they call life-affirming.

The Year of Magical Wanking was a THISISPOPBABY production, directed by Mr. THISISPOPBABY Phillip McMahon. For the Ulster Bank Theatre Festival THISISPOPBABY have produced Trade, written by Mark O’Halloran, directed by Tom Creed and happening in a real life B&B. You should also get your tickets for another THISISPOPBABY production – Alice in Funderland at the Abbey. I know it’s six months but trust me – you don’t want to miss this show.

Absolut Fringe – part 2.

Images for The Year of Magical Wanking, Where Do I Start?, Eternal Rising of the Sun, In My Bed.
Weekend Viewing: (clockwise from top left) The Year of Magical Wanking, Where Do I Start?, Eternal Rising of the Sun, In My Bed.

I am heading back to the Dublin this evening to get my final dose of the Fringe for this year. I have tickets for The Year of Magical Wanking which is getting great reviews and I’m really looking forward to it, and the final performance of Where Do I Start? at lunchtime on Saturday. Last Monday, I also bought tickets to Eternal Rising of the Sun and In My Bed (now almost sold out), after they both got great reviews last weekend. I’m just started a course called Ensemble Acting but most of my Fringe viewing has been one-man/woman shows. I’m also really looking forward to Pop Céilí on Saturday night. Hurray for another Fringe weekend!

Of course there are loads of other shows that I would love to see but can’t fit in. If you are stuck dumb by the selection on offer, may I suggest;

Man of Valour – getting great reviews from all over the place and I’m raging I can’t fit it into my Fringe schedule. I’m hoping they will do another run sometime soon.

Luca and the Sunshine – also getting great reviews and it sounds like a sweet fairytale. It stars John Cronin who was our Bill for End of the Road and is always excellent.

Jumping Off the Earth – part of the Rough Magic SEEDS Programme and directed by José Miguel Jiménez, one fifth of The Company, it sounds like a very interesting show.

Follow – a chance to visit the new Lir Theatre see a show in sign-language.

TwentyTen, the omnibus edition – if you can manage 6 hours in the theatre absorbing all of 2010, then THEATREclub will buy you a drink. Seriously – there’s a free vodka and mixer for everyone in the audience after Saturday’s show.

First Look: Absolut Fringe

The launch of this year’s Absolut Fringe Festival programme took place on Wednesday evening in the brand new Festival Club venue – Top of the Town on Parnell Square East (opposite the Gate Theatre and up a bit). After a few short speeches and a bit of free vodka, we got out hands on the sleek black programme! As usual, there is a whole heap of wonderful stuff there and it’s all on the website as well. I like that they have kept the same web design as last year – I like the ‘Like This / See These’ suggestions on the right hand side and the categories section is really helpful. The whole thing is organised in a useful, helpful way and I like that.

And if anyone is still unsure where to start with this massive programme, I’ve picked 10 things that I would like to see. I’m not saying that these are the best things in the festival, this is just my top ten at this moment in time!

1. Man of Valour because I love Corn Exchange and this got some great reviews at the Cork Midsummer festival last month.

2. Twenty Ten for it’s scope and ambition. THEATREclub will put all of 2010 on stage, two months a night for 6 nights and then perform the whole year again in a 6 hour performance on Saturday morning.

3. Do You Read Me? by Talking Shop Ensemble and Shaun Dunne. I loved their last show I Am a Homebird (It’s very hard) and as a life-long sceptic, I’m interested in this show about mediums and clarvoyents.

4. Where Do I Start? I saw a half-hour verison of this at The Theatre Machine Turns You On and really liked it. I’m interested to see how it works as an extended show and as it says in the programme, Nyree is “one fifth of multi ABSOLUT Fringe award winners The Company” which is reason enough to see this show!

5. The Year of Magical Wanking. I love thisispopbaby and this got rave reviews at Queer Notions late last year. I think it’s another brave, ambitious show and has the wonderful warning Contains explicit adult themes and language. I love a show with language!

6. Autobiographer by Melanie Wilson because I saw Iris Brunette in 2009 and loved it. It was a weird and wonderful show that has stayed with me for two years.

7. In My Bed because I like one-woman shows and shows in weird places. This one takes place in a car park.

8. Whenever I Get Blown Up I Think of You because that’s a great title. And it’s another one-woman show. There’s quite a few of those in this year’s Fringe!

9. Love Songs for Losers because it’s on in The Stag’s Head which seems like the perfect venue for a show set in a grimy karaoke bar. And they were giving out lollipops at the launch!

10. Pop Ceili. I caught the last two songs by these guys last year and they were brilliant! I want to see more of them this year.

That’s my 10 for the moment. Booking is already open on the website and if you book this week with the Early Bird code you can get 10% off! And then you have something to look forward to this September.

Pineapple by Phillip McMahon

I finally saw Pineapple last night and it did not disappointment. Tomorrow is your last chance to see this fantastic show – please don’t miss it.

The play is funny and sad. The characters are wonderful and they feel real. The actors are all fantastic. Caoilfhionn Dunne as Paula, the downtrodden sister who is trying to look after everybody, is particularly good but every single actor onstage is terrific. And they have a great script to work with.

There are some great lines in this play and it all feels like real people talking. At the beginning of the play, it took me a few seconds to tune in to the dialogue between the two teenagers. It felt like trying to understand Shakespearean dialogue. (Really it just means I’m officially old and I can’t understand young people anymore.)

I loved every aspect of this performance. As well as the fantastic cast and funny, engaging script, the set is clever and versatile and also manages to say something about the characters – the falling apart flat, the monkey-bars the two girls hang off and the way the bars become the window of the flat. It’s as if Paula’s home extends into the area around the flats and to the neighbours above and below her. It got the sense of community across very neatly. The lighting was also really beautiful. I love the coloured back lighting and the shadows the lights cast.

The whole show is great to look at and wonderful to listen to. The two hours flew by so quickly; I wasn’t ready for it to be over! I would have happily watched these characters for another two hours.

You have one last chance to see it – book your ticket now!