From the edge to the mainstream
PICK OF THE WEEK
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