Theatre Highlights of 2017 by M. Quinn
An unusual year in Irish Theatre with much change at the bigger institutions such as the Abbey and the Gate.
At the Abbey and we got something of a greatest hits of Irish Theatre, which is hard to complain about! Waiting For Godot and Dublin by Lamplight were among the highlights. 2018 has a lot more new work so should be interesting. The Peacock was in near constant use and the smaller space threw up many gems such as They Called Her Vivaldi and Fire Below (A War of Words).
It was a good year for the Dublin Theatre Festival with some impressive international work such as Fruits of Labor at the Beckett and Endings at the Project Arts Centre. The Suppliant Woman was a highly imaginative production at the Gaiety with a largely amateur cast! The Dublin Fringe Festival had a wide variety of works with Raven Eyed, Deadline! and Spliced among my favourites. MDLSX was an interesting mix of the famous book and the life of performer Silvia Calderoni.
The Dublin Dance Festival gave us a glimpse of dance from around the world. Elvedon at the Samuel Beckett Theatre and Deep Dish at the Abbey were two rich and rewarding productions. The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is always a mixed bag but it did contain Montparnasse which was very enjoyable.
And now for the ones that really deserve a mention. The smaller productions, the ones that did it on a shoe string with a lot of love! Outlying Islands at the Samuel Beckett looked amazing and was very well acted. The Eurydice Project was a dream like version of the Greek legend. The Humours of Bandon at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre gave us an insight into the cut throat world of Irish dancing. Brontë ran at Smock Alley in March and really got our attention with its ambition and fine acting. Private Peaceful was also very enjoyable and toured Ireland in the Summer. The Last Days of Cleopatra and Happy Birthday Jacob ran at the New Theatre and are both well worth a mention.
Shackleton by Blue Raincoat was probably the most visually striking production of the year. Class at the Civic/ New Theatre was possibly the best piece of new writing to come from Ireland this year with the team of Iseult Golden and David Horan creating something quite complex. It returns to the Peacock shortly. Hamnet at the Dublin Theatre Festival was a well written and inventive production, Dead Centre continues to dazzle. There was also a short run of Random Scream productions at the Project Arts Centre, with What You Need to Know and 7 Promises.
If I was made pick one production it would probably be The Great Gatsby at the Gate. I’m expecting it to clean up at the Irish Theatre Awards later in the year. It was a sprawling and fun production that let you explore the characters in Gatsby’s world. It’s hard not to mention the controversies at the Gate, but the new team are producing some fine work.