All posts by Steph

A landmark day

Finally time to have your say. Get out and vote today if you can – there’s many around the world who dream of the chance to do so in their own country.

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Getting political at the Labour Party National Conference 2009

If you didn’t get a polling card just go to your polling station with photo ID before 10pm.

It’s also 2 years to the date since Joe Rospars gave “a talk” on his work on Obama’s campaign aka the launch of the new Fianna Fáil website. I wasn’t impressed. Neither was another blogger that I bumped into there called Darragh Doyle.

How time flies. Happy Friday.

Be captivated by MIMIC this week at the Project Arts Centre

I trotted into the Project Arts Centre last night as I so often do without a clue what to expect from what I’m about to see. Sometimes I purposely avoid reading prologues and reviews in advance to see how a piece of work stands up by itself and what impact it has on me.

Sometimes I’m kicking myself for not doing so and other times I’m completely mesmerised and on cloud nine.

Image borrowed from Imagine Ireland

MIMIC was one of the latter. A one-man show with only a baby grand piano, a mirror and some lighting for company we are taken on an entertaining satirical journey through the life of Julian Neary’s turbulent, dark roller-coaster existence opening with what later turns out to be his dramatic demise.

Julian’s journey is troubled to say the least. Growing up in 80′s Ireland Julian discovers he has an unusual talent for mimicry, not something that his father – a man with strict ideals and stuck in the 1950s – takes a shine to and reacts by moving the family’s piano into the basement, or dungeon as Julian calls it. The dungeon is where Julian spends much of his youth during which time he forms a strong bond with his sister Aoife who seems to spend most of her spare time sneaking boys in and out the back entrance of the house.

Julian’s journey takes us through his failed college experience to his seemingly accidental rise to fame and all the way back down to earth again. The sharp and witty imitations of characters like Columbo and Morrissey set against the piano score make for welcome funny moments in amongst all the dark whirlwind life of the mimic.

I don’t want to say too much as I think part of the reason why I enjoyed it so much is that I went in with an open mind, a clean slate. Plus part of the joy is in how the story is told by Scannell and I certainly can’t do that justice here.

It was without doubt the best one-man show I have ever seen and one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in my lifetime. I was completely sucked into the tale, absorbed into the crazy world of Julian and a small part of me didn’t want to come back out. Raymond Scannell – the writer, composer and performer – is nothing short of a genius. Stunning.

It’s at the Project Arts Centre only until this coming Saturday the 26th so rush to the website and get yourself a ticket this instant!

The Cripple of Inishmaan

I had the great pleasure of attending the opening night of The Cripple of Inishmaan at The Gaiety on Tuesday night, Druid Theatre‘s latest touring production.

Druid The Cripple of Inishmaan. Tadhg Murphy, Clare Dunne. Photo by Robert Day.5542

At their 35th birthday celebration in Galway last year they included a scene from The Cripple of Inishmaan in their series of vignettes of their work and it was the one that for some reason stood out the most. Since hearing that they were taking it to the stage again I’ve been looking forward to seeing it and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations and more last night.

The story is based in the 1930s on Inis Meáin – the middle of the three Aran Islands. Cripple Billy is a bright young man tormented moreso by the boredom of island life than his physical ailments, something I think that will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in a remote part of Ireland.

An orphan since he was a newborn, Billy was brought up and lives with his two aunties, shopkeepers of the local grocery who are an absolute hoot. Billy dreams of a life beyond the Aran and beyond captivated by the story of how his parent’s boat sank as they tried to make it to the mainland en route to America.

But any mention of leaving the island let alone the country is shot down by his aunties who fear he does “too much of that – thinking”. When news of a film company coming to the main island from America reaches him Billy hatches a plan to get there in the hope of going to America to be a movie star.

It’s a wonderful story – heart-breaking, warm, full of characters and a side-splitting witty script with some very unexpected twists. Of course being a Druid production the cast is simply top notch with the talented young Tadhg Murphy in the role of Billy, Liam Carney as BabbyBobby and Claire Dunne as the feisty cailín Slippy Helen.

Now playing in Dublin until March 5th, Druid will be touring the production across the USA, Galway city at the end of June and ending in Inis Meáin on June 26th.

Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or the Gaiety box office.