From the edge to the main­stream

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The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - Peter Craw­ley

DUBLIN FRINGE FES­TI­VAL

The sec­ond word in the Dublin Fringe Fes­ti­val’s ti­tle now seems mostly ves­ti­gial, a relic from its ear­lier days. It hasn’t op­er­ated at the edge of another fes­ti­val for years; it’s hardly out­side the city; and aes­thet­i­cally, it isn’t wildly al­ter­na­tive to any­thing you’ll see else­where. That’s partly a re­flec­tion of its suc­cess: the Fringe has pushed the al­ter­na­tive firmly into the main­stream.

As though to prove the point, Kris Nel­son’s out­go­ing pro­gramme as fes­ti­val direc­tor is as wide and en­com­pass­ing as it’s ever been.

There are large-scale free public events, such as Town Choir (above) and Tro­phy to lay siege to the city, both of which fea­ture col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween com­pa­nies from Canada, his coun­try of ori­gin, and Ire­land, his adopted home.

There are in­ter­na­tional per­for­mances that fuse dance, mu­sic and sto­ry­telling to push at the bound­aries of the hot topic of gen­der iden­tity, such as Sil­via Calderoni’s MDLSX and Ivan Coy­ote’s Tom­boy Sur­vival Guide. And there are cor­re­spond­ing con­cerns from Ir­ish com­pa­nies on bod­ily au­ton­omy, among TheatreClub’s in­stal­la­tion per­for­mance Not At Home and Luke Casserly’s an­guished re­sponse to the Kerry Ba­bies case, ef­fi­cacy 84. Be­fore her new play opens at the Dublin Theatre Fes­ti­val, Stacey Gregg’s dip­tych Choices, about one woman seek­ing IVF and another seek­ing an abor­tion, re­ceives a re­hearsed read­ing at a timely junc­ture.

In re­cent edi­tions, the Fringe has be­come some­thing like a po­lit­i­cal party, a plat­form for ac­tivism dressed up as a good night out.

A vis­it­ing show from Lucy McCormick, Triple Threat, which retells the New Tes­ta­ment as a trashy per­for­mance art cabaret, is bound to of­fend and de­light de­pend­ing on your prox­im­ity to saint­li­ness. Junk En­sem­ble’s Sol­dier Still en­lists for­mer sol­diers and pro­fes­sional dancers in a show deal­ing with vi­o­lence and trauma.

Other shows fold their in­tel­li­gence into gid­dy­ing en­ter­tain­ments, like Paul Currie’s an­ar­chic com­edy about adult­hood and its dis­con­tents, or (to haz­ard a guess) the ea­gerly awaited latest pro­duc­tion from brain-tin­gling en­sem­ble Malaprop, a piece about mem­ory and tricks of the mind called Ev­ery­thing Not Saved.

Writ­ing old and new is com­bined in Si­mon Doyle’s con­tem­po­rary trans­plan­ta­tion of Shake­speare’s The Tem­pest to West Kerry, di­rected by Maeve Stone, and pithily en­ti­tled The Shit­storm. Orig­i­nal pieces abound in The Lir, Smock Al­ley, the New Theatre and the pop­u­lar Show in a Bag se­ries at Bew­leys. And fi­nally this year a whole pro­gramme ex­ists just for kids, called Young Rad­i­cals. That brings a sober­ing re­al­i­sa­tion. The Fringe is now so es­tab­lished you can even grow up in it.

The Dublin Fringe Fes­ti­val takes place in var­i­ous venues around the cap­i­tal from Septem­ber 9th-24th. For more, see fringe­fest.com

It hasn’t op­er­ated at the edge of another fes­ti­val for years; it’s hardly out­side the city; and aes­thet­i­cally, it isn’t wildly al­ter­na­tive to any­thing you’ll see else­where

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