Browsing articles in "Events"
Mar 18, 2012

Paddy Laughs Comedy Festival – Tee Hee Hee!

On Thursday night I made the epic journey from town to Dundrum – From Here to Suburbia. Just kidding, I only hopped on the Luas! I was on my way to the Mill Theatre for the Paddy Laughs Comedy Festival. With half an hour to spare before show time I ducked into Humdrum Town Centre and was left wondering if teenage girls actually own a hairbrush these days?

Once inside the Mill Theatre I hooked up with my pals, one of whom was taking to the stage, and we wet our whistle at the bar. The first night of the festival was all about up and coming talent, some rookie comedians others seasoned, having a platform to perform their material. And win a prize! The competition, MC’ed by Jarlath Regan, was between fourteen guys and gals.

Regan was dead funny of course but had a lovely knack of putting the newbie comedians at ease. Sure he’s been there himself. I must say we were rolling in the aisles throughout, the quality was outstanding. Sometimes it’s the rough around the edges stuff that’s just raw funny. Everything was there from hilarious stories and killer one liners to slapstick and props.

There were certainly a few stand out stand ups (ho ho) who I expect to hear of in the future. While Regan and the judges made off behind the magic door to decide the winner, we were treated to a set from last year’s champ. With all the comedians lined up on stage this year’s lucky recipient of the pepper mill (geddit?) was announced as Paddy Lonergan. A very funny fella!

Naturally, nobody left empty handed with all of the comedians picking up a medal for their efforts. A prize for one liner of the night went to Colm Tyrell, a highly energetic lad, and a special mention for Karen Toomey, an inventive funny chick. A comedy night is always a nice antidote to mad bad life and Paddy Laughs really proved that there’s still lots to laugh about.

Mar 5, 2012

First Thursdays Dublin – Temple Bar

First Thursdays is a great idea! On the first Thursday(geddit?) of every month Dublin opens up it’s cultural doors for an evening of arts. A bit like a mini Culture Night, it’s a great way of encouraging folk to check out what the city has to offer. I strolled into Temple Bar, ’twas a lovely night and straight into the Brick Alley Cafe on Essex Street East.

With a Wu Tang Killa Headache threatening to wreck my buzz I knew this was just the place to chill out before hooking up with my pals. I pointed to a virgin deep dish apple pie I’d spied in the window cake stand and ordered up a hot slice with cream. And a cuppa, obviously! Pulling up a wooden bistro chair I settled in at the central communal table of this cosy caff.

One bite and I was feeling better already. Crunchy shortcrust, fresh apples – not too sugary and with a big pot of whipped double cream. ‘Nuff said… The Brick Alley Cafe is dark and romantic like an old hideaway tabac you might find in French village. Wine bottles line the wall behind the counter, which is the focal point of the room, with fresh ice creams out front. La vie en rose…

Ready to rock ‘n’ roll I made my way to Meeting House Square, home of the Gallery of Photography to meet the chaps. It was the opening night of “Amazon”, an exhibition with pictures by award winning photographers Sebastiao Salgado and Per-Anders Pettersson. In Aid of Sky Rainforest Rescue, the exhibition highlights the devastating effects of deforestation in Brazil.

Salgado’s work, in black and white, portrays stunning natural habitat, despite human destruction, and the communities living within them. The stark contrast of how these tribal people live, so close to nature, and how we operate in the Western world is amazing. Pettersson’s photos pick up the colour of rural Brazil with sharp insight into family life on the edge of rainforests.

Next up was the Project Arts Centre, a well known hub of weird and wonderful creativity in Temple Bar. We experienced “Panto Collapsar” and “We Sell Soul”. The former is an art installation by contemporary Australian artist Mikala Dwyer. The main spectacle of the piece is a hovering canopy of silver floating O shapes, moving in harmony with the room, calling our attention to a spiritual world.

Our lovely guide, Ian, talked us through the concepts of both art works explaining the latter, by Liverpool’s Richard Proffitt, as the first in the Project Arts Centre’s new experimental portal, The Grotto. It features a collection of hippy memorabilia and counterculture paraphernalia, evoking the reality of commercialised ideological icons. An interesting observation indeed.

All art-ied out, our next stop was Ukiyo for a bit of bento action. The Japanese bar and restaurant on Exchequer Street is a fave of mine, combining tasty food and good value as I so like. We tucked into the day’s offering of salted mackerel, kimchi pork, and vegetable pasties which came with miso, mixed salad and sticky rice. You can’t go wrong for 10 euro.

A dessert bento was made for sharing as we spooned hazelnut cheesecake, rum and raisin brownie, ice cream and a wonderful milky goo. Don’t know what it was but we loved! All washed down with Asahi beer and a refreshing Tom Collins. As more people make a date with their sofa nowadays, due to financial woes, First Thursdays is a great free night out with something new to do every time.


Oct 14, 2011

Peer Gynt – A Boy Living in a Man’s World

My new fave mode of transport is the Luas – it’s like my own Bat Mobile to The Northside. A five minute ride to Clerys (for ladies who don’t do BT), Easons and Foam Café. Last night I jumped out on Abbey Street and straight in the door of Sheries, the perfect pit stop before Peer Gynt at the O’Reilly Theatre. We slipped into a comfortable spot for an hour’s munch. Creamy lattes were followed by a hearty chicken curry, just like mammy makes, and a Spanish omelette with chips. I must mention the service in Sheries, not for the first time, as the guy in charge of this joint really is top of his game.

Stuffed chops, we made our way up to Belvedere College via David Norris’ stamping ground, North Great Georges Street. What a lovely place, an unspoilt oasis in a bustling part of the city – I can see why it’s most famous resident raves on so. The O’Reilly Theatre is a large auditorium inside the school and the stage was fully decked out with draped windows, chaise longue and vintage lamps for Peer Gynt. Rough Magic’s adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic has been re-worked by Arthur Riordan, with music by Tarab. It was a packed house for the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival.

The play opens with Peer entering what appears to be a hospital, to be stripped of his suit and put in regulation pyjamas. Soon we are introduced to his young self bantering away with his mother, the son she just can’t rely on. For Peer is the original Walter Mitty or Billy Liar, and gets carried away by his fantastic tales, riding on the crest of his imagination. Told in rhyming monologue the two bounce from one to the other as Peer soars through his grand story, his mother equally despairing and encouraging. Rory Nolan is captivating as Peer Gynt, the boy who never grew up, an escapologist extraordinaire.

We travel in rhyme and riddle through Peer’s mad world, not knowing what’s real or made up anymore than he does himself. When he runs off with a local bride to be he finds himself embroiled in the forest with trolls. This is where Rough Magic comes alive with all of the players dressed up in crazy costume and some great one liners pinging back and forth. Troll daddy, the Mountain King, is a funny creature indeed. All the while Peer’s mother and his true love endeavour to save him – from himself mostly! The action on stage is non stop with infectious energy and especially brilliant performances from Karen Ardiff, Sarah Greene and Arthur Riordan himself.

Torn between his alter egos of good and evil, white and black angels who shadow him throughout, Peer navigates himself in and out of trouble with some great highs and lows. Eventually we encounter him as an older man, having left home after his mother’s death, and conquered Africa. Or so we are to believe. With pomp and swagger he holds court until he is reminded of his sad lack of legacy. But yet again instead of facing the truth Peer transports to another world, this time ancient Egypt where he faces all manner of puzzles and familiar faces. Is his past coming back to haunt him? Peer must face the consequences of his misspent days.

The one thing Peer can’t escape is himself and when death is all around him he must reconcile his own judgement day. Aspects of Peer’s life swirl around his now jaded self. Regrets. Denials. The moral of the story is that it’s better to have been noble or villain but not on the fence as Peer, who now protests otherwise. He is a man who’s never surrendered true love, given without receiving or made his mother proud. What is his final fate? Although a thoroughly enjoyable romp, I couldn’t help but feel that Rough Magic might have indulged Peer Gynt time wise, as it spanned over three hours. A swifter conclusion might have added rather than taken away, but as a friend pointed out, how the hell do you edit Ibsen?

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.

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!

Sep 24, 2011

Culture Night – Dublin Opens it’s Doors

Friday 23rd was Culture Night – when the city’s artists, performers and cultural mavens open their doors to the public for free. An excellent worldwide venture that works well in Dublin, this lovely vibrant town we call home! Temple Bar is full of surprises for those who think it’s only a Hen party hotbed – there’s a whole world of creativity here. First stop, the Black Church Print Studio where we were given a guided tour of their various processes and a demonstration of fabric printing.

We popped next door to the Monster Truck Gallery, then into Connolly Books for a browse and to the Gallery of Photography where we checked out Noel Bowler’s latest exhibition. Time for a sit down, so we parked on a giant beanbag at Filmbase for some fantastic Irish movie shorts. Laugh out loud we certainly did – Irish film talent at it’s best. City Hall was next on the agenda and what an impressive space! The domed building onDame Street features a beautiful high ceiling lobby, where we caught an Irish writers history display and a theatrical performance of their works.

Underfoot, amazing vaults house a history of Dublin from Viking times right up to today. There are fascinating artefacts, maps and video guides. The Lord Mayors costumes were my favourite! Culture Night packed in so many venues all over the city, it was a good idea to pick one stamping ground and go for it. Temple Bar was thirsty work so we were glad to be fed and watered in Salamanca on St Andrews Street, a slick Spanish tapas bar. Pinchos, chorizo and vino went down a treat. Finally, a nightcap in The Morgan was the only tonic for a happy carb coma and tired feet.

Sep 23, 2011

To Arthur! And Oil Can Harry’s!

As Paris Hilton once said “You should live everyday like it’s your birthday”. Or Arthur’s Day at least. Pour the pints and they will come. On Thursday 22nd I found myself propping up the bar at Oil Can Harry’s on Lower Mount Street. It’s been years since I’ve been to this particular watering hole and it hasn’t changed much from the gig venue that I used to haunt in my college days. Still a great “old man” pub, with plenty of nooks to cosy away an evening.

With all drinks at 3.50 in honour of Arthur, we got stuck into lovely creamy pints of the black stuff.  What else? Oil Can Harry’s is a family run joint, a warm and welcoming place where we joked and chatted with locals. If Cheers was in Dublin… Some characters! Serious soakage was called for if your Girl Friday was to last the night so I consulted the chef, once we’d polished off a few of the free nibbles. We filled up on delicious burgers with pineapple relish and chunky chips. And still room for another pint…


Aug 4, 2011

Flash Feast – A Delicious Day in Dublin

A picnic for the people – that was today’s Flash Feast on Dublin’s Millennium Bridge. The city was well fed all within the lunch hour as I joined the crew from Street Feast who made it happen. Rocking up to the Italian Quarter at midday I didn’t know what to expect when we met in our make shift HQ, Foam Café. Here’s the deal – trestle tables, marquee poles, chairs, bunting, plates, cutlery – all scavenged in the last few days. The food was a mix of pot luck and hot meals from local restaurants either side of the bridge. Bon appetite!

Working to a deadline of 1pm we got to task with decorating, collecting all the donated bits ‘n’ bobs and setting up the scene. Passers by curiosity was piqued as soon as we arrived at Millennium Bridge and ten minutes later a gang of happy eaters were seated and ready to tuck in. Chow was delivered to the urban picnickers courtesy of Foam Café, Milano, Lemon Jelly and many more. Pizza, pasta, pancakes and salad were followed by apple pie and homemade bread with cheese. The buzz was electric at this culinary event.

I shared some tasty morsels with Emma and Claire fromDublin. “It’s fantastic” said Claire “There’s something here for everyone and it’s a chance to meet new people.” Kely and Rodrigo from Brazilwere invited to via Facebook. “We’ve never eaten on a bridge before!” Rodrigo laughed. “It’s really good fun. We love it!” Kely added. Singer and songwriter Matt Ellison got involved after an eleventh hour text and was on hand with his acoustic guitar. “It feels good to be part of this” Matt told me “It’s social. It’s free. It’s a great idea!”

The concept is simple and organic in the way it brings together community with most of the volunteers becoming involved online or through friends. Organiser Samuel Bishop, who is behind Street Feast on 28th August, was delighted with today’s launch. “It’s a way of bringing people together and everyone loves food” Sam explained “Team work is what makes this so easy to do.” The last minute venue announcement also kept Flash Feast a surprise. “That made today special” said Sam “And it breaks down barriers!”