Archive for 2011


Giselle, from Dublin’s Gay Theatre Festival

Monday, 9 May, 2011

Ballet with bondage overtones

Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2011 – Back Loft, La Catedral Studios, 7-11 St Augustine Street, Dublin 8 – 9.30pm (65 minutes) – May 4-7 (show seen May 6)

In this combination of a contemporary dance and spoken one-man show, Mercier tells parts of his personal journey, particularly his classical ballet training and his ‘coming out’ to his family as a gay man.

The juxtaposition of naked ballet with some bondage gear – and quite a lot of rose petals – makes the piece highly unusual and interesting visually.  He pokes fun at the conventions of both the ballet and bondage worlds.

But perhaps the best parts are where Mercier simply stands up and tells his story in a deadpan way, with the right mix of humour and straightup honesty.  These are used as interludes in the dance performance, which are perhaps too brief and could be expanded, to make use of his talents in this area, which are as strong as his dancing ability.

Cast Credits: Performer – Joseph Mercier.

Company Credits: Producer – Clara Giraud; Co-Produced by – Chisenhale Dance Space; Dramaturgy – Zlata Camdzic; Lighting Design – Ziggy Jacobs.  Special Thanks to – Jessica Muche, Bruno Vinhas & Seamus Bradley.

© Colman Higgins 2011


Cloaked, by Ricardo Melendez

Monday, 9 May, 2011

Neo-Shakespearean drama about gender

Dublin Gay Theatre Festival 2011 – Back Loft, La Catedral Studios, 7-11 St Augustine Street, Dublin 8 – May 2-7 – 8pm (70 minutes – May 2 & 7 at 2.30pm also) – show seen May 6

This costume drama is set in a Renaissance milieu in an unspecified European country and phrased in beautiful Shakespearean language – but explores themes that were very much forbidden at that time.

Queen Sofia is actually a man pretending to be a woman, because of a decision his now-dead mother made to protect him as a baby, from rebels intent on killing a male heir.

Not only that, he is gay, which allows him to have a secret romance with courtier Alonso, who is unaware of his Queen’s true nature, as she only ever allows him to have anal sex.  To complicate matters further, a religious fanatic (Orozco) is intent on burning any gay members of the nobility at the stake.  The subterfuge in which Sofia has to engage is eating her inside and the play is about how she resolves this conflict.

The language used is similar to that of Shakespeare’s period and is almost as colourful and elegant as that of the Bard himself, while remaining completely comprehensible to the modern listener.  When the fantastically lavish costumes are added, the overall sensory effect is an unremittingly delightful experience.

Melendez’s acting is as flawless as his writing and he could almost have carried off the play as a one-man show.  While the moral message of the play could be seen as slightly heavy-handed, the elegance of its presentation means that any such stridency is barely noticeable.

Cast Credits:  Queen Sofia – Ricardo Melendez; Lord Orozco / Alonso – CJ Vogt; Lord Giacomo / Francesco – Patrick Marlett.

Company Credits: Director – Steve Earle; Writer – Ricardo Melendez; Inspired by – Franciso Ors’ CONTRADANZA.

© Colman Higgins 2011


Coming up at the Canal Cafe Theatre

Thursday, 5 May, 2011

Plays in French? How classy. That and much more at Warwick Avenue’s canalside venue.

7 – 8, 10 – 12 May, 7.30pm (7pm Sunday)

2 plays in 1 act, by Georges Feydeau. A hilarious evening in French! Or for those who want to get in the mood:

“Les pavés de l’ours”, suivi des “Les Fiancés en herbe”, 2 pieces en 1 acte, de Georges Feydeau. Pour une soirée hilarante en francais!

This show, which features 2 of his funniest plays, brings to the London stage the best of the Parisian vaudeville, in an adaptation by French Director Caroline Msika.

With Clément Paccalet, Léonore Saintville, Marie-Camille Schweizer and Nicolas Soum.

9 May, 7.30pm

Very friendly comedy night at the Canal Cafe every second Monday of the month, featuring the best up and coming stand ups on the London circuit, some offbeat acts and one well known headliner.

10 May, 9.30pm

The Great Puppet Horn provides cultural critique as only bits of cardboard stuck to a stick can. In a mere 60 minutes hundreds of puppets are animated at break-neck speed. As discarded politicians fly by your ear delight in the shadowy characters who speak, beat-box and pole-dance for your entertainment.

13 – 14, 20 – 21 May, 7.30pm

Comedian Matt Roper is Lucifer in a new political satire by Terry Newman (Bremner Bird and Fortune) and directed by Michael Eriera (The Afterlife of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore).

In this ‘audience with’, prior to the publication of his book: ‘The Fourth Man, my role in New Labour’, we finally get the inside story of the political events that shaped a generation.

Be there or be damned.

15, 22, 29 May, 7.30pm

Eight of the best, award-winning short plays and sketches by writing team The Brothers Kaufman. Weird, amusing and funny.


Gateshead International Festival of Theatre

Tuesday, 3 May, 2011

Caroline Pearce reviews GIFT

On Friday lunchtime it started, with a tea party in the streets of Gateshead outside the impressive Old Town Hall.  It’s just a stone’s throw from the bustling city centre of Newcastle, but important in its own right.

GIFT is what it says on the tin, a festival of international theatre.  The brainchild of Director, Kate Craddock who aims to bring culture to the people of Gateshead and tempt the hoards of visitors up from the iconic Quayside buildings of BALTIC and The Sage Gateshead, onto the High Street.  Based on feedback, Kate’s comments and the sense of achievement and celebration which filled the weekend, this is set to be the first of many.

Kate said “I really believe in festivals as a space for people to come together, to exchange ideas and to make new connections, and I am proud to say that it really felt like this was what happened this weekend at GIFT. I was overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm both from artists and audiences to support one anothers’ work and to genuinely engage in dialogue about that work.”

The three-day event was filled with delightful and experimental performances by companies from all over the world, from Lawnmowers Theatre Company who are based in Gateshead Old Town Hall, to Foyer Productions who brought their new multi-media show ‘Elena Elena’ all the way from Korea, especially for GIFT.

Gateshead Old Town Hall’s main theatre hosted a wonderfully diverse series of performances about topics including Nixon, grief, hitch hiking to a G8 summit, time, Chekhov and absolutely nothing.  Other performances were held in a bar, a church and an empty shop.  There was storytelling, audience participation and silent dancing – all in a day’s work for these festival bunnies.

There was a programme of professional workshops for the artists which was completely filled; artists wrote and discussed and interacted with their international peers. There were too many to mention them all, but performances ranged from Gateshead’s own Angela Kennedy and Liz Pavey’s ‘Cell’ dance installation in the Town Hall’s old prison cells; a performance installed in a box housed in Gateshead Interchange Metro Station, ‘Kapzuola’ from Austria and ‘Building the Big Society’ by Molly Barrett and Edwin Mingard, which featured a cardboard taxi travelling the streets.

Kate added, “the festival was intended to serve as a response to an area that is currently undergoing major redevelopment work. I was delighted by the extent of engagement with the sited performance works and street theatre that took place, with casual and unsuspecting audiences encountering performances in unusual spaces”

The success of the festival could be measured by the number of people who went along, enjoyed it and went back.  The last event on Sunday night, Richard Dawson’s gig ‘The Magic Bridge,’ was so crammed out they were turning people away at the door.

GIFT happened from Friday 29 April to Sunday 1 May 2011

For full details of the programme and more information see:

(c) Caroline Pearce 2 May 2011


Assembly creates a new hub for Edinburgh 2011

Tuesday, 3 May, 2011

An Assembly Spiegeltent in 2010

Assembly has been integral to the Edinburgh Fringe for the last 30 years, during which time it has presented many major names in the arts and entertainment industry.

The closure of the Assembly Rooms on George Street for renovations means that it is to move its centre of operations from George Street to a new hub in George Square, where it will operate seven venues. There will be three spiegeltents in George Square Gardens – the Bosco Tent (180), the Dans Palais (250-275) and the Teatro spiegeltent (400).

Here will also be a Luminarium from Architects of Air. Around George Square there will be four indoor venues: George Square Theatre (520), two theatres in the David Hume building and a temporary theatre in a garage One (275), Two (160) & Three (122).  The whole site will be linked, creating an environment around the entire east side of George Square. This, in addition to the Assembly Hall on the mound which boasts three theatres (Hall, Rainy Hall & Baillie Room), means that Assembly will have ten performance spaces and a programme of around one hundred shows from small scale to major showcases founded on theatre and comedy, but bringing in a vital mix of other genres including children, circus, music, dance and cabaret.

Assembly now represents 20% of the entire Fringe box office, generating in the region of £15 million worth of visitor spend every year. The quality of the work has been exceptional and this success is rewarded with accolades from the press and countless awards.

Assembly is committed to providing the highest possible production values, service and facilities to audiences, companies and visiting promoters/producers.


Prague Festival celebrates its 10th year

Thursday, 28 April, 2011

Prague Fringe: 27th May – 4th June 2011

Prague FringeFringe Festival Praha ‘The famous Edinburgh Festival’s naughty grandchild’ (Prague Post 2009) is 10 years old! Since 2001 the event has welcomed over 600 companies and 1000s of theatre goers to the heart of the city from all over the world – and you would be most welcome to join the celebrations!

This year there are 9 days of comedy, theatre and music in unique venues throughout beautiful Mala Strana with companies from across the world offering something to suit every taste. Rightly known for its fun, friendly, intimate atmosphere embraced by audiences and performers alike, the Prague Fringe is an event like no other.

Shows are very visual and last for 45 – 60 minutes, all are designed to entertain, delight and offer a different view with the idea that several shows can be seen in one evening – a roller coaster cultural ride! Prices are set to make this possible and there are ticket deals for multiple advance purchases! The organisers want to make sure that audiences who have seen one show, can see more!


Coming Soon: The Shakespeare Conspiracy, by Chris Hislop

Wednesday, 27 April, 2011

6 – 10 June, at the Chelsea Theatre, London SW10

The Shakespeare Conspiracy promises an epic comedy featuring a familiar Shakespearean line up of characters including Lady Macbeth, Juliet, Iago, Benedick & Beatrice, Richard III, Tybalt, Mercutio, Helena, Puck and some surprise villains.

In a world where 400 years ago Shakespeare’s characters came to life and started wandering about like everyone else: a near catastrophic incident, forced a shadowy government agency, calling themselves the RSC, to round up all Shakespeare’s villains and incarcerate them in a top secret maximum security prison, The Globe Theatre.  The villains’ leader – one Aloysius Archbald Iago – has been making plans and it is said if the villains are freed, they will set in motion a chain of events that will lead to the end of the world. Mankind’s last hope is a travel agent.

Well, it all sounds very lively (if  a bit spurious) but tickets are £12.00 and its nice to see the Chelsea Theatre actually putting on plays again (so John Park instructs me to say).