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!

Absolut Fringe 2012: Fringe Awards

The Absolut Fringe is over for another year, and what a wonderful Fringe it was! I had another great year volunteering with the festival and saw as many shows as my budget would allow.

The Fringe Awards happened last night in Meeting House Square, which was a wonderful out-door venue this year, playing host to Briefs almost every night of the festival as well as other acts. All the winners and nominations are listed on the Fringe Facebook page and, as usual, the list includes a whole lot of shows that I didn’t get a chance to see.

I’m looking forward to catching a lot of the winners when they come back again. The Lir Revival is a new award this year and the winners are given the opportunity to restage their winning production at The Lir. This year’s winners are Talking Shop Ensemble’s Death of a Tradesman (which also won the Fishamble New Writing Award for Shaun Dunne) and WillFredd’s Farm (which I tried and failed to get tickets for). I’m looking forward to seeing both of those shows when they are staged sometime between now and the end of the academic year. I have yet to see a show at The Lir so I’m looking forward to that too. I was down there a couple of times this Fringe as a volunteer and it seems like a great venue.

Death of a Tradesman is also part of this year’s Galway Theatre Festival which starts on next Monday.

Two more shows that I heard a lot of good things about but didn’t see myself were Paperdolls’ Constellations and Emma Martin’s Dogs. These two shows are closer to dance than straight theatre and both won big awards on Sunday night. Dogs won Best Production and Best Design and Constellations won Spirit of the Fringe. Paperdolls are definitely a company to keep an eye on!

So they are all the shows I didn’t see; I will post reviews of the ones I did manage over the next couple of days. And then we’ll get ready for the Dublin Theatre Festival which starts on Thursday!