Theatre Highlights of 2014


Full Productions – This is a list of productions on the bigger stages around Dublin, the Abbey, Project (Space Upstairs), Olympia etc. These caught my attention for a variety of reasons, and reminded me of why live theatre is so exciting. You can find our review of smaller productions and site specific work here.

Ballyturk – Black Box Theatre – Galway Arts Festival – This was a real treat, to see something of this quality on stage in Ireland.

“This first production may end up being the definitive version of the play, with very impressive performances by all three actors involved. Murphy and Murfi are introduced as the slap stick comedy duo and at times literally bounce off each other. The introduction of Rea marks a sinister change in the mood, and he delights in playing this devilish part. This play is a step in Enda Walsh’s career. He has moved his work onto another level, and it is a marked change in direction from what has come previously. The play could take and be helped by repeated viewing, as you slowly try to piece together this highly impressive new work.”

Our Few and Evil Days – Abbey Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival – Mark O’Rowe wrote an directed this production with a cast that boasted Sinéad Cusack, Ciarán Hinds and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.

“There are a number of loose strands in the story which will annoy some viewers, and the supernatural elements will marginalise others, but the number of strong performances and the range of ideas on display mean that this is a cut above the average. While there are still some flaws, it is remarkable at times and quite blood curdling.”

Americanitis Presents The Seagull and Other Birds – Project Space Upstairs – Dublin Theatre Festival – This feels like a bird that I watched from the first moment the egg cracked. Pan Pan’s attempt to allow the audience into their rehearsal rooms allowed you to have a fascinating view of the evolution of their show. It ended up being very different from the earliest incarnation in the Fringe Festival in 2013.

A Girl is A Half-formed Thing – Beckett Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival

“Aoife Duffin plays all parts in this production, changing from man to woman, Mother to Daughter, Uncle to Brother and a variety of other minor characters. This is a hugely complex part, as she has to radically alter her emotional state every few seconds, from an irate mother to a bored teenager and many other variations. Duffin shows a degree of emotional vulnerability that is difficult to achieve and is very impressive in this role. This is the first event I have visited in the Theatre Festival and I doubt I will see a better performance.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Dublin Castle. A lovely version of the Shakespeare classic was performed outdoors in Dublin Castle grounds in July.

“The night I saw this some unlikely guest stars took to the stage in the form of seagulls and they added some truly humorous moments but even without these uninvited guests stars this is an hilarious production. The combination of the kitsch colourful costumes, rich language and farcical plot all combine beautifully to give the audience a truly enriching theatrical experience. If you’re one of those people who thinks of Shakespeare is “too boring” this could well change your mind. Presented by Mouth on Fire Productions who are best known for their work with Beckett’s plays they could well have carved a new niche here. This is the kind of Shakespeare that ensures new audiences discover his work and engages with everyone from 0-90! A stunning production with a fabulous soundtrack if you are fortunate enough to get a ticket you’ll be talking about this for hours afterwards.”

Agnes – Project Arts Centre – March 2014 – CoisCéim Dance Theatre

“This really is my style of dance, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and there is a huge amount of humour in everything they do. I had a smile on my face throughout, and the whole piece is hugely entertaining. If you’re a fan of Agnes or if you’re open to the world of the smokey bar singer, this is a wonderful piece of music and dance to celebrate a life well lived.”

Tardigrade – Beckett Theatre, Tiger Dublin Fringe

“About five minutes into the performance, you start to hear the nervous laughter from the audience. There are a wild variety of images and you slowly realise that this production has its tongue firmly in its cheek. The man who gave the biology lecture strips off at the back of the stage, and then covers himself in pink/ mauve powder before starting to dance. The only conclusion is that it is all quite delightfully insane. There’s no attempt to stifle the images or the dress, all are at the edges of what is possible. It remains confusing and bemusing throughout and is as it was intended, wondrously bizarre.”

Star of the Sea – An Taibhdhearc, Galway Arts Festival

“The use of the bilingual script was interesting, but the production did give enough text for those without Irish to be able to follow the events, even if they missed some of the subtleties. This was an inventive and interesting production that put a human face on the suffering that took place during the Irish famine.”

Touring Productions –

Ganesh Versus The Third Reich

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich – O’Reilly Hall – Dublin Theatre Festival

Possibly the single production that will last longest in my memory. This was a play that dealt with difficult issues and it was clear how much thought went into the proceedings. There were two plays going on, the story of Ganesh, but also the story of the actors in the production some of whom have intellectual disabilities. It was also one of the most stylish productions seen this year, with layered transparent backdrops combined with impressive lighting used to create a variety of worlds.

Ajax and Little Iliad Peacock – Tiger Dublin Fringe

“Ajax and Little Iliad is a brilliantly original show that is well worth a watch. There may have been moments which tried too hard; but overall the attention to detail in staging and the sense of character in the approach to these details, more than supported the substance within.”

Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner – Peacock Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival

“There are photos, film and audio clips to help fill out the character of Bright, who comes across as mysterious and more myth than man. It is a piece that dwells on the abandon of youth, the years where anything seemed possible, and how it all slips away so easily. A melancholy tale of time lost and dreams unfulfilled.”

Review by M. Quinn –

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