Browsing articles in "Entertainment"
Oct 11, 2011

Gardenia at the Gaiety – Sequins, Stilettos and Stripping Bare

The Gaiety is a Dublin institution that means something to everybody in this city. Blood red and yellow gold, its dizzying balconies and velvet drapes are pure vaudeville. The Gaiety,Dublin’s longest established theatre, has retained a dusty nostalgia and sitting under the giant chandelier I’m transported back to my youth. No, not Victorian times! But to my college days and late nights, all danced out on Gaiety Saturdays, hiding out in the upper circle with herbal cigarettes filling the air… Last night I was back on South King Street for Gardenia by Les ballet C de la B.

On first glance Gardenia looked like a bit of a laugh, so I picked up a last call ticket from Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival box office in Temple Bar. Watch out for daily updates on their Facebook page. I knew the production was about a bunch of aging drag queens and somehow had an all dancing, all singing Pricilla Queen of the Desert scenario in mind. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Gardenia was surprising, at times shocking, very rude, very beautiful and certainly sad. The music, the cabaret and the downright bizarre bits knitted together a lucid message about femininity.

Created and performed by Vanessa Van Durme, who has openly spoken about her sex change, the play opened with herself and a troupe of ancient former dancers moving arthritically in their suits. Van Durme announced the demise of their glittery club Gardenia and introduced her cohorts, including Lady Fuckmesilly, Shirley Nightingale and Gina delRio. Unafraid of frank statement and filthy jokes Van Durme, in her inimitable sweet gruff voice, made the audience blush as much as laugh. Then the pinstripes came of, the frills were revealed and the men came alive.

What transpired was indeed very strange, a spectacle of moves, sounds and humanity. But what was remarkable was the awe with which the cast injected life into their female alter egos. Not just tarts with hearts but real understanding, love and tenderness. All of those qualities that have hardened up in our Post Feminist world. Acted out by men they seem so obvious – the ritual of applying make up, the feel of silk against skin, the gentle brushing of hair. Although Gardenia confronts homosexuality, transvestism and sex it explores femininity through the male lens.

The show is equally jarring and touching, helped by French and German soundtracks that echo a war time when the men would have been young. Perhaps their youthful selves are represented by the haunting Hendrik Lebon, whose ballet is mesmerising with comedy moments interweaving acrobatic skill. His scuffles with Griet Debacker, the only born female, were violent and moving. His struggle mirrored that of his older stage mates, lonely and bitter but transformed by their wigs and rouge. Hendrik’s feminine grace and hormonal flux told of the inner yin that that these men so craved.

It was a blue Monday, that I’d been hoping to turn pink, but instead Gardenia inspired a rainbow. And the pot of gold is being a woman. Females have been stripped bare of our true femininity by anti aging gunk, fashion magazines and Weight Watchers. I find it hilarious that it’s taken a bunch of aul fellas in full mother of the bride get up to point out what’s been under our noses the whole time. So ladies don’t iron your curls. Slip on a tea dress, add red lipstick and kick up your heels. Celebrate being a woman – not a dolly bird or a door mat. Know you are beautiful.

Oct 6, 2011

Ukiyo – Sing For Your Supper

This place is familiar to many as the karaoke bar on Exchequer Street, but did you know it’s also a Japanese restaurant? That does amazing bento box, wicked cocktails and in my opinion the city’s best late night dancing. The only thing I hadn’t done here was have dinner – and what can I say only noms!

After Mojitos in nearby Dakota we rolled into Ukiyo and the birthday party gang of us were seated at a long bench table – perfect for socialising! I kicked off with a Tokyo Tea – gin, elderflower liquer, Jasmin tea, lemon and Coke – tastes as good as it sounds! Asahi beer all round for my pals.

Now for the nosh. For starter I made easy work of Haru Maki, a spring roll of sirloin beef, sweet potato and peppers – yummy! My main course was Saba–Tatsuta Age, crispy marinated mackerel with salad and rice, it came with a piquant soy. It’s a favourite I’ve had with Ukiyo’s famous 10 euro bento too many times!

Despite what you might assume about Japanese food the portions were generous and the flavours satisfying. Our table was groaning with goodies so it was ideal to swap and share and there really was no room left in our desert bellies… Just as well because the real treat was karaoke. Fifteen of us murdering “Sweet Child O Mine”…

www.ukiyobar.com / Ukiyo, 7 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

Oct 5, 2011

Mamma Mia – Thank You For The Music!

I don’t know what had me more excited, Abba musical Mamma Mia or a visit to the Grand Canal Theatre. Anyone who saw my favourite Docklands neighbour Harry Crosbie on the Saturday Night Show last week will know that the theatre was born of blood, sweat and tears. And well worth it too! Home to many top productions since its opening, the Grand Canal Theatre is modern, comfortable and relaxed. But the view of the impressive canal basin is the best bit – and you can see Harry’s gaff from here!

After a cheeky Murphy’s in the bar, we took our seats in the circle balcony. I always think an eagle eye view is best for a big show. Mamma Mia opened on a Greek island, under crystal clear lighting, with the shows heroine Sophie singing “I Have a Dream”. When her bridesmaids burst onto the scene it was camp drama all round – I knew the show was going to be high octane! We were introduced to the story line by the trio – I won’t give the game away but let’s just say Sophie’s wedding is unusual…

Enter Sophie’s mother Donna and her sisters, who poured their infectious energy into smart one liners and of course belting song and dance. Mamma Mia has a typical musical feel, but is quite different from a sophisticated Lloyd Webber production. Written by Catherine Johnson, the show is unapologetically laced with clichés and the story is told through the music of Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. For all of Mamma Mia’s silly conflict and comedy moments the songs tell of true relationships.

Show stopper “Dancing Queen” brought Donna and her sisters to the stage in full Abba white satin uniform. This was the moment the audience engaged, with the first burst of laughter at the girl’s slapstick moves. From here on in it was all clapping along and fits of giggles – and no, it wasn’t just me! It wasn’t only the thigh slapping numbers either, Sophie and her hubby to be Sky evoked pure Sandy and Danny with their version of “Lay Your Love on Me”. The tempo flowed easily from high to low.

Mia Mamma’s plot thickened as daughter Sophie searched for meaning in her past while mother Donna avoided hers, creating an emotional build up to the wedding. The crescendo was Donna’s stomping “Winner Takes it All”, proving her to be the show’s real star. Everyone’s story is told from the cougar to the feminist, and the young buck to the divorcee through a huge spectrum of Abba songs. Not only is this clever but I was surprised to find the music of my childhood pulling at my heartstrings…

Alas there’s a surprise nuptial twist and it’s not like any wedding I’ve been to! Sophie and Sky make off into the finale sunset singing “I Have a Dream” as they go. There’s no single moral of the story with Mamma Mia but rather it was a rollercoaster commentary on our expectations of life. The audience rose to their feet for a rip roaring neon satin romp by the ensemble cast – clapping, dancing and swaying to an Abba medley. I’m sure a fair portion of my neighbours were in a happy 1970’s time warp!

I was still smiling when we repaired to nearby Ely Gastro Pub. It’s actually more of a slick wine bar but cosy with it, perfect for a late supper. Our waitress, a sweet girl who encouraged our post show high jinks, brought us mini fish, scampi and chips served in cute little frying baskets. Supping wine and beer we finished with a chocolate pyramid and strawberry meringue. I didn’t know what to expect from Mamma Mia but Billy Barrie for grown ups is all I can say! And sure why not?

www.grandcanaltheatre.ie

Sep 26, 2011

Walk Into Autumn – Photos and Magic

I had a packed Sunday lined up. First up was a photography course at Farmleigh in the Pheonix Park. A truly beautiful oasis, I met the gang at midday for Clare Mulvany’s “Walk Into Autumn”. We roamed the grounds snapping away to a soundtrack of live jazz stopping at the Farmer’s Market and the Boathouse Café to refuel along the way.

The course was a great help to a budding photographer like me. Clare guided us through the technical ins and outs of our cameras, as well as supervising our work. She had a keen eye for all things visually pleasing and even got us rolling around in the leaves!

A pit stop in the Dice Bar was much needed before hitting National Museum of Ireland for the Macnas performance closing Absolut Fringe. Collins Barracks was the perfect playground for the Galway theatre company’s magical larger than life production.

As night fell the sky was lit up by fireworks and the air filled with thrilling music as Macnas’ weird and wonderful creatures came to life. They weaved amongst us like fairies and goblins and Irish folklore was alive for adults and kids alike. With some more cool pics I toasted a super day, at the Millenium Bar, with a lovely pint of Guinness!

Jul 21, 2011

Cars Love Girls – Crawdaddy Feels The Heat

Last night’s stunning debut by Cars Love Girls was one of those hot Dublin moments I just didn’t know was going to happen. Always a random Wednesday night! First stop food and since I was in the area, Café Bliss on Montague Street of course. I was delighted to be greeted with a “great to see you again” by the lovely owner, who’s been feeding me for the last five years, to which I replied “great to eat here again!”

I slipped in beside a gang of Tipp ladies who provided entertainment with their Chardonnay girl talk – this is one of the best people watching spots in town! One delicious Caesar salad and a sunshine smoothie in my belly I was ready to rock Crawdaddy, under the arches of the old Harcourt Street railway station.

On arrival it was clear that Cars Love Girls first gig was hugely anticipated as the place was nicely swelled with fans & musician friends alike. The band come from Dublin rock royalty, being fronted by ex Republic of Loose axe man Bres and singer Orla. The sibling duo bring their unique retro R’n’B and pop sound, not to mention myriad talent, to Cars Love Girls in their first project together.

I scooped up my Tiger beer and ducked from the super chilled Chocolate Bar into the cavern of Crawdaddy – the intimate venue was wall to wall as I weaved my way front of stage. The air was thick with expectation as the band took hold, Orla and Bres on either side, with ex Boss Volenti honcho Rob Daly centre back.

Straight off the bat Cars Love Girls launched into a stonker with pristine sound, deep instrumental integrity and very impressive vocals knitting them together. Orla is a cool blonde who looks as good as she sounds, Debbie Harry cheekbones, channelling Alison Moyet through Stevie Nicks in the voice department.

It’s clear from the off that this is one smart outfit with Bres’s distinctive licks layered into loungey cuts, his own vocals a honeyed version of his sister’s powerful sound. There are shades of Republic but it’s almost as if the Breslins have distilled all the good bits and perfected them into radio friendly heaven. A girl can’t help but dance to this stuff – if Sile Seoige was here I’m sure she’d have a smile on her face! Cars Love Girls do sexy with a natural ease.

This band owned the stage and just three songs in it was obvious that something very special was happening in Crawdaddy. Belters like “Lose Your Mind” and “Cars Love Girls” are well crafted pop songs – I was picking up Prince, Steely Dan and Madonna. Excellent lyrics make up the package with songs like “Future Ex Wife” re-inventing Fleetwood Mac in funk disco – you just have to hear it!

Non stop action from the duo and a polished back up including sax player Keith transported us back to 1980’s New York. Kudos to Cars Love Girls for creating such a good feeling, Bres getting lost in spiralling instrumentals, diamante guitar strap glistening with every pick and Orla all lungs, shimmying kohl and LBD. It just works.

Lots of oohs and la la las cushioned well thought out numbers and the audience was delighted by covers of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature” and Eurythmics “Heaven Must be Missing an Angel”, both of which showcased Orla’s sultry vocals. Cars Love Girls left the stage on a high, their debut a triumph and my head filled with hooks and words I look forward to dancing around my lounge to.

I bumped into Jan Van Couver and Kendrick Berrera of 80’s super group Springbreak fame bopping away in the corner. Van Couver couldn’t contain his excitement when he said “There was high expectation of this gig and the Breslins delivered. This is a sibling combo at its best – think the Carpenters, Pointer Sisters, the Bee Gees.”

I then caught front woman Orla Breslin fresh off the stage and she revealed to me how much Cars Love Girls enjoyed their first gig. “We’re really happy! Bit nervous at the beginning but we’re pretty tight so we got into it” she trilled “We’re delighted with the turn out and reaction. It’s great to be on stage with Bres, we get on and musically we bounce off each other so I love working with him.” Indeed the pair oozed a confidence that highlighted how well they work together.

Orla told me how much fun it’s been recording new material. “We’re hoping to release a single in October / November, then our album “Skip School” in the spring time” she says “And we just signed up to FM 104’s The Gig at the Olympia in October.” Then I joined the rest of the crowd, euphoric on hops and tunes, a chilled disco DJ set bringing me back to earth.

www.carslovegirls.com / www.fm104.ie

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