THEATRE 2020 THE SHOWS TO CATCH THIS YEAR

From Ma­rina Carr and Roddy Doyle to Cole Porter and An­ton Chekhov, there’s a wealth of pro­duc­tions to see from the coun­try’s ma­jor com­pa­nies

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - STAGE - SARA KEAT­ING

The com­ing year prom­ises to be one of the­atri­cal com­mem­o­ra­tion and cel­e­bra­tion. Crit­i­cal eyes will first be fo­cused west­ward, on Gal­way 2020, which has launched sev­eral high-pro­file in­no­va­tive the­atri­cal pro­duc­tions, with com­mu­nity col­lab­o­ra­tion and en­gage­ment at their heart.

Bra­nar’s Sruth na Teanga (March 2nd-29th) in­vites au­di­ences aged eight and above to ex­pe­ri­ence the evo­lu­tion of the Ir­ish lan­guage in an im­mer­sive prom­e­nade pro­duc­tion that com­bines pup­petry, mu­sic, video map­ping and live per­for­mance. Druid Theatre, mean­while, reach out to the ru­ral mar­gins with The Gal­way Tour (May-July), a fes­ti­val of one-act drama re­hearsed and per­formed in lo­cal towns across the county.

Else­where, the Gate theatre marks the cen­te­nary of Ire­land’s most tur­bu­lent po­lit­i­cal pe­riod with a new pro­duc­tion of Seán O’Casey’s land­mark play Shadow of a Gun­man, set in 1920 dur­ing the War of In­de­pen­dence, un­der the pen­e­trat­ing gaze of di­rec­tor Louise Lowe (May 14th-July 11th).

Ire­land’s great­est the­atri­cal ex­port, Riverdance, cel­e­brates 25 years of do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional suc­cess with a sta­dium tour at the 3Arena in Dublin (Fe­bru­ary 6th-9th) and the SSE Belfast (Fe­bru­ary 19th-23rd), while the Abbey Theatre cel­e­brate their most re­cent suc­cesses with a pop­u­lar, tourist-friendly trans­fer for Roddy Doyle’s Two Pints (Olympia Theatre, Au­gust) and a na­tional tour of Lisa Tier­ney-Keogh’s This Beau­ti­ful Vil­lage in June.

Co-pro­duc­tions with Corn Ex­change, Blue Teapot, and One Two One Two, mean­while, give a na­tional plat­form to al­ter­na­tive per­spec­tives in­clud­ing Ir­ish-lan­guage speak­ers and artists and au­di­ences with dis­abil­i­ties. Let 2020, then, be the year in which in­clu­sion – across the re­gions, art forms and au­di­ences – be­comes more than just a buzz­word.

The Lieu­tenant of Inish­more

Gai­ety Theatre; Jan­uary 27rd-March 3rd When The Lieu­tenant of Inish­more pre­miered in Strat­ford-Upon-Avon in 2001, it was thought that Martin McDon­agh’s play was too con­tro­ver­sial to be pro­duced in Ire­land: its ir­rev­er­ent take on ter­ror­ism cut too close to the bone for a coun­try still look­ing for sta­bil­ity af­ter the Belfast Agree­ment. Al­most 20 years later, the play’s pol­i­tics are more palat­able, but they are sadly still rel­e­vant in a lo­cal as well as global sense. An­drew Flynn of­fers a ma­jor new pro­duc­tion of McDon­agh’s dark com­edy, fea­tur­ing Paul Mescal in the star­ring role of Mad Padraic and Don Wy­cher­ley as his equally mad fa­ther Donny.

Kiss Me Kate

Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Feb 1st-22nd

Build­ing on the suc­cess of last year’s pro­duc­tion of Stephen Sond­heim’s Sweeney Todd, the Lyric Theatre Belfast col­lab­o­rate with North­ern Ire­land Opera for a pro­duc­tion of Cole Porter’s metathe­atri­cal mu­si­cal com­edy Kiss Me Kate, star­ring Nor­man Bo­man, Jayne Wisener and Mel Ste­wart. Set both on­stage and off­stage, it fol­lows a fiery cou­ple feud­ing as they try to get a pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare’s Tam­ing Of The Shrew off the ground. The jazzy score – in­clud­ing Too Darn Hot – has en­tered the lex­i­con of pop­u­lar mu­sic, so Wal­ter Sut­cliffe’s pro­duc­tion will rep­re­sent opera at its most ac­ces­si­ble.

What I Don’t Know About Autism

On Tour: Abbey Theatre, Feb 1st-8th; Ev­ery­man Cork, Feb 11th-13th; Mer­maid Arts Cen­tre, Bray, Feb 5th

Ac­tor and writer Jody O’Neill uses her own ex­pe­ri­ences as a start­ing point for this fas­ci­nat­ing ex­plo­ration of autism. Mix­ing nar­ra­tive, song, dance and di­rect ad­dress, it ex­plodes pre­con­cep­tions about dis­abil­ity and re­veals star­tling truths about prej­u­dice and ex­ploita­tion, while also of­fer­ing sto­ries filled with love. Per­formed by ac­tors with and with­out autism, in­clud­ing O’Neill her­self, all sched­uled per­for­mances will be re­laxed, to en­sure a wel­come for au­di­ences of all needs.

The Cherry Or­chard

Black Box Theatre, Gal­way, Feb 22nd-March 7th; Bord Gáis En­ergy Theatre, Dublin, April 8th - 11th

Druid Theatre brings grav­i­tas to Gal­way 2020 cel­e­bra­tions with their pro­duc­tion of Chekhov’s The Cherry Or­chard. Garry Hynes di­rects the clas­sic play, whose Rus­sian themes – fam­ily, land, legacy – seem so par­tic­u­larly Ir­ish in this poignant 2004 ver­sion by the late Tom Mur­phy. It fea­tures Derbhle Crotty as the Madame Ranevskaya, mis­tress of the in­debted es­tate and its fail­ing cherry or­chard.

Af­ter its Dublin trans­fer, Druid em­bark upon The Gal­way Tour, which will see a com­pany of 11 ac­tors cre­ate, re­hearse and per­form some of the great­est Ir­ish one-act plays in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties across Co Gal­way dur­ing May and June, cul­mi­nat­ing in a month-long res­i­dency at the Mick Lally Theatre dur­ing the Gal­way Arts Fes­ti­val. The one-act plays in­clude The Ris­ing of the Moon, The Gaol Gate, A Pound on De­mand, Bed­time Story and The Bri­ery Gap. druid.ie

Our New Girl

Gate Theatre; Feb 27th-March 4th Fol­low­ing on from the suc­cess of Nancy Har­ris’s thrilling drama The Bea­con, the Gate give a plat­form to Har­ris’s new play. In Our New Girl, Har­ris charges another do­mes­tic drama with psy­cho­log­i­cal ten­sion, as a high-pro­file plas­tic sur­geon (played by The Fall’s Aidan McArdle) aban­dons his fam­ily to take on a char­i­ta­ble case. When his wife looks to an Ir­ish nanny for help with their trou­bled eight-year-old son, the fam­ily that seems to have it all starts to un­ravel. Har­ris’s work has shown an in­crease in con­fi­dence over the last sev­eral years, and this high-pro­file pro­duc­tion shows that The Gate have con­fi­dence in her too.

The Book of Names: Pump­house

Dublin Port; June-Sept

ANU and Land­mark launch an am­bi­tious three-part na­tion­wide co-pro­duc­tion in 2020 with The Book of Names, which pre­mieres in June. Di­rec­tor Louise Lowe will mar­shal reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tors, in­clud­ing de­signer Owen Boss and ac­tor Thomas Reilly, to cre­ate a unique, site-spe­cific his­tor­i­cal ledger that will doc­u­ment the roles played by em­ploy­ees of Dublin Port in

mu­ni­tions smug­gling dur­ing the War of In­de­pen­dence; the sec­ond and third parts are planned for 2021 and 2022.

Break­fast on Pluto

Gal­way In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val; July 19th-20th

Pat McCabe’s 1998 book, with its themes of emo­tional and phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion and its 1970s club set­ting, was surely al­ways ripe for mu­si­cal adap­ta­tion. How­ever, Bob Kelly and Duke Spe­cial’s ver­sion seems par­tic­u­larly timely. The ex­pe­ri­ences of trans­gen­der teen Pussy, as she ex­plores the bound­aries of her sex­u­al­ity, chimes with many con­tem­po­rary de­bates about trans rights and so­cial change. Af­ter a late-night work-in-progress club per­for­mance at last year’s Gal­way In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val, Break­fast on Pluto achieves a full pro­duc­tion this year in a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Land­mark Theatre that will surely have longer life.

Duck Duck Goose

On Tour; Sept -Oct

Fisham­ble Theatre: The New Play Com­pany bring another new drama from their A Play for Ire­land scheme to the stage, launch­ing Ca­tríona Daly’s Duck Duck

Goose onto a na­tional plat­form as part of the 2020 Dublin Theatre Fes­ti­val. Set in the af­ter­math of a con­tro­ver­sial rape al­le­ga­tion, Duck Duck Goose ex­am­ines the con­flict be­tween loy­alty, love and doubt when the rules of ro­mance are be­ing rewrit­ten. What do you do when your best friend is ac­cused of rape? In­spired by salient so­cial is­sues that re­main con­tro­ver­sial, the Dublin pre­miere will be fol­lowed by a na­tional tour that will open the con­ver­sa­tion across the coun­try.

The Boy

Abbey Theatre, Dublin; Sept 17th-Nov 7th Ma­rina Carr con­tin­ues to in­ves­ti­gate Greek mythol­ogy in The Boy, a pow­er­ful new cy­cle of plays to be staged at the Abbey dur­ing the 2020 Dublin Theatre Fes­ti­val. Di­rected by Ca­tríona McLaugh­lin, The Boy opens up the po­lit­i­cal and eth­i­cal im­pe­tus of an­cient drama to modern in­ves­ti­ga­tion. What does it mean to live in a world born out of vi­o­lence? What re­spon­si­bil­ity must the in­di­vid­ual bear? Form­ing a com­pelling nar­ra­tive that speaks to the cycli­cal na­ture of hu­man tragedy, The Boy has been cre­ated in two dis­crete parts, but will be best viewed as a du­ra­tional event over a sin­gle day.

Bra­nar’s Sruth na Teanga com­bines pup­petry, mu­sic, video map­ping and live per­for­mance for au­di­ences aged eight and above

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