18th Festival Preview: IDGTF Comes of Age in 2021!

The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival comes of age in 2021.

Welcome to our 18th Festival!

Two years have passed since we last gathered in person to celebrate queer artists and moving expressions of wonderful LGBTQ+ stories.
This year, join us for our online festival, sponsored by Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride and the Arts Council.

Tune in for world premieres and exciting partnerships. Here’s what founder and Artistic Director of the Festival, Brian Merriman, had to say about this year!

2021 is the second year our stages went dark due to Covid. We have had no income and no renewal of the essential volunteer effort that has sustained us to reach our 18th year. Grant support has been lost or cuts maintained.

But there is a lot of good news! Pride month in June is our time to celebrate with you what makes Dublin a unique centre for LGBTQ+ theatre worldwide. Our small team has produced a remarkable programme to celebrate our ‘coming of age’.

2,500 Euro was awarded to 11 Irish and Irish resident playwrights for new Irish LGBTQ+ plays in May.
A new book IDGTF: 18 and Coming of Age the Director’s Cut – including 13 new plays will be published in June to celebrate our special birthday, and available on
We are really delighted to bring our loyal audiences a free online virtual Festival of 13 plays from Ireland and abroad beginning from June 7th.

Thanks to our ongoing partnership with Dublin LGBTQ+ Pride, who funded the recording of new plays and who financially supported our artists, we are delighted to present this free festival of many new dramatic works.

It is great to reconnect our artists with our audience online in June as we await our return to live theatre in May 2022.
I salute all of the writers of the 65 new plays encouraged by our 2020 and 2021 Bursary opportunities – an unimagineable number of new
Irish plays when we began in 2004. I am in admiration of the productions in our online festival who have adapted their plays to fit the digital format.

We hope you enjoy being part of our 18th birthday celebrations and here’s to returning to live theatre in 2022!

The streaming of these plays will be available through Dublin Pride’s Vimeo account on both the Pride and IDGTF websites. All productions are free for viewing and uploads will start from June 7th. Tune in to catch moving stories and beautiful theatre produced against all odds.

Against the ever-present anxieties and stresses of the past year, these plays are a testament to playwrights from Ireland and across the globe triumphing over the odds to produce breathtaking works of art. In a time when we cannot be together nor express ourselves through live theatre, it is important that these voices are heard. These plays are truly inspiring works borne out of these daunting times.



Festival Review 2019: Obligatory Scene

“A Powerful Tribute To Queer Women’s Courage”: Obligatory Scene At International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Carolyn Gage’s Obligatory Scene takes a hard look at the possibilities for women’s sexuality in today’s rape culture, and the result is not to be missed.

Obligatory Scene opens with the construction of a bedroom – that is to say the furnishing of the room, and the construction of the bed itself from frame, mattress and blankets. Two women carry in and position furniture, then laugh and kiss as they try to make the metal pieces of the bed frame fit together.

We don’t know who these women are at first. After a scene break that brings a jump forward in time, though, they soon introduce themselves as the play’s central characters: grad students Vivey and Dru, a married couple who aren’t having sex anymore.

Dru is happy with the lack of physical intimacy; Vivey is not. Both are deeply unhappy with the emotional distance that has grown between them. And so the construction of the bed gives way to a debate on the constructedness of sexuality, gender roles and to what extent it’s possible to healthily enjoy lesbian sex in a world where all sexual pleasure is conditioned by exposure to rape culture.

The hyper-intellectualism of the play’s two central characters, who approach the problem of their own sex life via an argument over Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, barely conceals a vulnerability beautifully revealed by actors Carli Rhoades and Alice Kabia. Readers of Sally Rooney will know the type: these characters are better at discourse than they are at communication, but their attempts to understand one another make them likeable despite their flaws.

The couple’s sexual problems are coloured by Dru’s history of sexual abuse, a backstory that writer Carolyn Gage and director Amelia Cain handle deftly and with respect. The writing is witty, warm and hard-hitting, but many of the strongest moments in this production are unspoken.

When Vivey and Dru are unable to explain their feelings out loud, their body language speaks loud and clear. The impact of these silent moments is a testament to the acting abilities of Rhoades and Kabia, and to Cain’s skill as a director.

It’s no accident that Obligatory Scene is presented at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival as part of a double bill, preceded by Miss Furr and Miss Skeene – a short play based on Gertrude Stein’s word portrait of gay artists Ethel Mars and Maud Hunt Squire, adapted by Lynn C Miller. The shorter piece, as well as being fascinating in its own right, sets the scene for an intimate discussion of lesbian sexuality, contextualised and intruded on by the political discourse that has always surrounded lesbian sex.

Presented as a pair, the two plays offer a candid look at the efforts gay women have made across history to live happy lives together in a sexist world – and a powerful tribute to the courage these women have shown.


Read the full article by Cassia Gaden Gilmartin for GCN here.


Festival Review 2019: The Little Pink Book of Masculinity / The Measure of a Man

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Little Pink Book of Masculinity/Measure of A Man, Ireland Institute

A picnic of masculinity stories from the UK and Australia are a perfect matching treat in this double bill of story-telling.

John Best kicks off the night with a high camp insight into being oneself. It’s warm, funny, gentle and liberating.The smooth narrative is close to stand-up with observations to send-up, exploring experiences of the masc/fem continuum that makes or breaks dating on the gay scene.He has some great tips from his ‘little pink book’ that advise and answer through wit and wisdom. John Best is a happy boy in his skin. Gavin Roach isn’t so happy. His 40 minute tour of ‘performance’ management resonates with many and entertains all. He can’t get it up and can’t keep a guy, because this seems to be the key issue at the heart of relationships. Gavin is sweet, appealing,and defines himself by virtue of his prowess… or lack of it. He lacks confidence in bed and out of it. Gavin has charm,a big soft heart and a warm and witty story to tell. At the end of the evening you certainly get the measure of the man and what a generous measure that is!


Read the full article by AO’B on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Bingo


Bingo performed and written by Alan Flanagan introduces us to a character called Cormac who gets his test results one day to discover he has indeed got a ‘full house’.

Its an emotional tale of sexual flashbacks, family fun and tragedy, a myriad of casual friendships that big cities produce, and an addiction to speed. Flanagan’s sparkling script captures the diversity of city life,gay encounters, special needs assistance, religion, and an
eccentric family life. The interpolation of television is masterful. The quirky subject changing is so cohesively delivered that it all flows seemlessly. Flanagan engages his audience from the outset with an incredible skill to weave you onto his wavelength, so you always get his point and he has many to make. Cormac evokes empathy and laughter with a twinkle of an eye. It is an intelligent, informative, humourous and sparkling story, gloriously delivered,which must stand out as one of the finest solo performances ever seen in the festival. The audience jumped to their feet the night I attended. Cancel something important to see it – you’ll be glad you did!


Read the full article by AO’B on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Like Orpheus

FESTIVAL REVIEW: “Like Orpheus”, Teachers Club

This Canadian visual treat from the pen of Brett Dahl, under the direction of Jay Whitehead is an all embracing multi-genre theatrical conversation witnessed by the audience.

The highly visual presentation is quite a triumph for fringe theatre as the senses are teased, lulled and shocked by light, sound and sensual dance movement. Clearly the most “alternative” of this year’s offerings, Dahl presents himself almost as a novelist and we appear to be present as his characters seek to break free from the lush constraints of the author’s prose to shake the narrative into the 21st century club scene. The physicality is sublime and beautifully portrayed. The communications contrast are an achievement that push against the limitations of fringe theatre with considerable success. There is trauma, enticement, mystery and violence. There is blending of contemporary and cultural imagery which leaves each individual audience member present in their own play. Is it real? Is it happening? Who is speaking? The setting is on the edge of the forest outside a town. The encounter is between two men but clearly we are all supposed to be on the edge. Faultless diction, exact timing, a sensual rhythmic duet of language and movement from the performers and a highly charged soundtrack and lighting mood are the key components of this visual treat. Excellent performances and a complete use of the theatrical venue leads me to believe Theatre Outre is as much an interpreter of this experience as is the playwright. They hold our hand on a journey of confusion, fear, lust, violence and courage. It has happened to us all at times and is now happening again on stage. But what exactly is it? If an lgbt festival wants to include the queer and alternative branches of the family, they will see themselves in this dark take of many styles which impresses with its artistry and masculine dance.


Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Gertrude Stein and Companion

FESTIVAL REVIEW: “Gertrude Stein and Companion”, Teachers Club

Win Wells has the wit and artistry of two strong iconic women to harvest in her play.

Gottaluvit productions from South Africa with their well cast and directed production ensure a bountiful harvest. Set in Paris and remarkably not dealing with how these two Jewish lesbian artists survived Nazi occupation in real life, they play goes beyond the obvious and loving core relationship to deal with ageing, legacy and family. It’s a beautiful piece of theatre. Shirley Johnson (Gertrude) and Lynita Crofford (Alice) are highly skilled interpreters of these complex women. Lesbians are as a norm, erased from discourse and memory – hence Alice B Toklas being confined to the role of “companion”. But she was so much more and the similarities in her role and that of Robbie Ross in preserving Oscar Wilde’s legacy are striking. Tolkas is the reason we know Stein today. Dead is dead said Stein but here it is her beginning. There is a clear warmth and intimacy in the dignified structure of their lifelong relationship. Love wins and that’s never in question despite the disapproval of others. With an art collection to die for, a friendship with Picasso to comfort and an ambition to publish at all costs, this award winning production, sensitively directed by Christopher Weare engages from the start. It’s a warm and tender story, set in separation, that proves the enduring bond of love. The rich text beautifully conveyed by this well cast duo guaranteed a real theatrical treat. Go see it.


Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Monastic / Like Orpheus

IDGTF Review: ‘Monastic’ and ‘Like Orpheus’ at the Teachers’ Club

I found myself at the Teachers’ Club again last night. This time to watch some theatre from the week two programme of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. For my viewing pleasure I saw ‘Monastic’ from Ireland in my old stomping ground of the basement theatre; as well as ‘Like Orpheus’ from Outré Theatre in Canada.

‘Monastic’ is a new work by playwright David Donovan and is directed by Kate Haley. It takes its inspiration from a news story a couple of years ago, when it was revealed that almost all seminarians in Maynooth College were active on Grindr, and were overwhelmingly gay and closeted. I remember being unsurprised by that revelation. About twenty years ago I was friends with a former seminarian who had shocked me to the core by telling me that he had once been in training to be a priest, and that by his estimation 90% of his class had been gay. I passed no outward judgement, but I had been confused as to why any healthy young man would want to sign up to that life. My reaction was possibly inspired by my deep-rooted atheism. I wasn’t impressed by the news story in 2016 however. It seemed so invasive, prurient and damaging to the troubled souls at the centre of the scandal. Were they suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? The homophobia, misogyny and self-hatred of the closeted church hierarchy is blatant to the world. I regarded the trainee priests at the centre of the ‘scandal’ as naïve victims who would have seen sense and left the seminary before ordination. Which had been the case for my friend and his entire class in the 1990s. They weren’t given that time thanks to the scandal.

‘Monastic’ is about three seminarians who are studying at the college. Ian and Harry (Kit Geraghty and Connor Molloy) are openly gay to each other. Both are tormented by their sexuality, but very fond of anonymous online hook-ups. Their square classmate Jack (Brian Briggs) is ignorant of the twitching bedsheets in the seminarian dormitories. The play explores the struggle of these three characters, as well as a mother (Antoinette Conroy) as she struggles to understand why her son would want to devote his life to the priesthood, The performances are all strong in this piece, capturing the confusion and isolation of these foolish, naive young men, who struggle to reconcile their faith with their sexuality. The set is very striking with a neon crucifix glowing ominously in the background; and a chequered black and while floor. This is an interesting, well directed play that was enjoyed by the entirely male audience (the ban on women priests probably the reason for this). I found the play quite challenging in places – this is related to my incomprehension why any young gay man – even a man of faith – would regard such a lonely existence as a valid career choice. Worth checking out.

Next on my agenda was ‘Like Orpheus’ also in the Teachers’ Club. This is a production from festival veteran Theatre Outré who has performed over several years at the festival – I had been deeply impressed by the production of ‘Montparnasse’ in 2017. Written by Brett Dahl; directed by Jay Whitehead, and starring Dahl and Kevin Jesuino ‘Like Orpheus’ follows the aftermath of a serious sexual assault of a young man, drugged while dancing in an underground nightclub. The assault has been witnessed by others one of whom is now haunted by recurring visions of the horror he has witnessed. He pursues the young man seeking redemption.

‘Like Orpheus’ is a mixture of dance and text that jumps around in time and place. It tells the tale from the varying perspectives of both characters – the assault and the fallout. It is a beautiful piece of theatre – dark, fluid and haunting. It’s quite experimental so I am not sure whether my interpretation of the narrative is accurate, but I guess it’s open to different interpretations. The nudity contained in the piece is unnecessary to the arc of the story, but as I believe in the credo that nudity is not wrong, it is therefore quite acceptable. ‘Like Orpheus’ is a fascinating work, and well worth seeing if you are someone who can enjoy something a bit out there (or ‘outré’).


Read the full article by midnightmurphy on Midnightmurphy here.


Festival Review 2019: All I See Is You

FESTIVAL REVIEW: All I See Is You, Players Theatre, Trinity College

It is a darker time. 1967. Britain is struggling with the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality but is dragging its feet.

In the meantime, police harassment and gay cures thrive. The law is brutal, the Courts are brutal, the workplace and families follow suit. In all of this oppression we meet Bobby who works in Woolworths (Ciaran Griffiths) and Ralph (Christian Edwards) a student teacher. Kathrine Smith’s beautiful text recreates the oppression, fear, bigotry and love of a tortured minority in a changing Britain. In EM Forster fashion Smith’s story reaches across the class divide. Ben Occhipinti’s and Mark Powell’s flowing direction builds tension, releases emotion and relives the 1960s fear that the text and glorious soundtrack convey. Our well dressed actors are a duet. Their contrast and commonality shine in two powerfully restrained, excellent, moving performances. “All I See Is You” brought back memories to some and educated others that the greatest grip oppression has on you is when it convinces you to embrace it. Love struck Bobby doesn’t accept the constructed shame and reticent Ralph’s life changes forever. With an unspoken underscore of a time that destroyed many Alan Turing’s of this world, “All I See Is You” is an emotive and powerful reminder of the shoulders we all stand on today. Beautiful theatre.


Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Velvet

‘Velvet Reinterprets The #MeToo Movement Through A Fragmented Black Mirror-esque Lens’: Velvet At Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival

Set against the backdrop of the 2017 #MeToo movement, VELVET explores the complex realities of harassment within the industry and how far a person is willing to go to achieve their dreams.

Velvet is a one-man play which offers a raw and destabilising insight into the complexities of sexual harassment in the digital age of the acting industry.

Both written and performed by Tom Ratcliffe, Velvet tells the story of a young, aspiring actor struggling to orient himself around his sometimes conflicting ambition and moral compass.

Standing upright in centre stage and looking straight ahead for the majority of the production, Ratcliffe switches between a number of different characters with grace, each identifiable by the skilful ease with which he changes his expression, voice and posture.

What first begins as a tentatively humorous tale of Tom’s acting career, slowly transforms into a visceral, jarring account of coercive control. This production offers a new perspective on the LGBT+ aspect of the #MeToo movement, using an overhead screen and a robotic, disembodied voiceover to document the Grindr and WhatsApp conversations between an aspiring artist and a ‘casting director’, highlighting the dangers of online anonymity.

An ode to the velvet cover of a casting couch, Velvet shifts between and the personal and professional, the online and the offline to highlight both their differences and convergences, particularly the effects of outside-abuse on personal relationships and the link between sex and power.

Read the full article by Isidora Durán Stewart for GCN here.

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Velvet, Players Theatre, Trinity College

Our hero “Tom” is a drama graduate, pretty, not untalented and is hurling himself into an industry packed with wolves.

Velvet testified that most drama students need a module on the industry and how it is supposed to work and how you navigate that and it’s clear our “Tom” either skipped that class or more likely was another drama graduate, deluded by the degree awarded, into thinking it equips you for the workplace. It doesn’t. Tom is a nice guy, he shows good judgement at times when not bring a bit of an airhead. Armed with a drama degree and a sense of entitlement that an older boyfriend or his Mother should provide for him long after graduation, he struggles as entitlement benefits evaporate. He comes down to reality in this well crafted piece with a bang. He is catfished online by “a casting director” who promises him stardom and in the desperation that is the system of audition and agents he has a choice to make. The abuse of power, the trading of sex for stardom is an all too familiar topic for women in the industry. Gay men were never seen as men in the arts but as boys – lesser men. “Tom” with his mixture of misplaced arrogance and vulnerability is ripe for the plucking and he is rightly plucked! Tom Ratcliffe, writer and performer has constructed a piece of thought provoking theatre that shines a floodlight on the theatrical toxin of sexual harassment and online exploitation. His engaging well timed performance style convinces, as at times we the audience want to shout stop – but Tom isn’t the kind of rookie who listens. Velvet is uncomfortable in its misuse of power and exploitation of fresh faced talent. It is theatre well done.


Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Schlong Song

FESTIVAL REVIEW: SCHLONG SONG Players Theatre Trinity College

Woody Schticks is a sex comedian. His high energyaction packed show packs a punch form the start. Woody has trained as a ballet dancer, is a stripper and knows how to tell a story from a yarn to a political point. This is not an inhibited show but it is packed with laughs and flexibility. His physical agility is on display from the start. His connection with the audience is intimate and reassuring. He even has some local gags! Woody brings us on a whirlwind tour of a diverse family, arts career and adventurous world tours. His colourful skimpy costumes scream 1980s cheese and he slips in and out of them with choreographic ease. A brilliant soundtrack, lots of one liners and high energy ensured his capacity audience left buzzing after their whirlwind tour of a life from camping holidays through boyhood wisdom to taking on communist repression in bizarre circumstances. He triumphs as a sex comedian and the audience including me had a great night. Cheer yourself up as Woody’s comedy certainly ‘schticks’.


Read the full article by GF on our Facebook Page.


Festival Review 2019: A Southern Fairytale

There’s an old saying that goes: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” It fails to specify, however, what the road OUT of Hell might be made of.

Ty Autry might have a few ideas about that.

As we see in “A Southern Fairy Tale,” Ty has been to Hell and back at least three times before he’s seventeen, and that’s without taking into account his ongoing struggle to stay in one school for more than a year at a time, his stint at a Christian gay conversion camp, and a series of increasingly nightmarish interactions with the Powers That Be in his small rural town, deep in the American South.

And all he really wants is to find his Prince Charming and live happily ever after, preferably in a castle. With children. Three. Is that really too much to ask? Apparently so, at least in Georgia.

This is a clever and well-written solo performer play, a intensely personal narrated journey about the transformative power of, as the character puts it, “faith and fairy dust.” Both components of that phrase are equally important for understanding the propulsive forces behind this intriguing piece of theatre. As the plays peels through through chapters of Autry’s young life, it’s clear that one of his most important struggles is presrving and advancing his personal relationship with God despite a religious system that insists he forfeited that simply by being who he is. “A Southern Fairy Tale” is a story about Christianity as much as it is about sexuality.

Within both narrative threads, Autry balances painfully obervant self-disclosure about his teenage years with crackling wit and just the right amount of camp. There are lines from this play that I’ll enjoy remembering for a long, long time (spoiler alert: watch for his pithy irony about the effectiveness of conversion therapy in a campground setting).

He is also a natural performer, with an exceptionally mobile face and a great command of the stage. There’s quite a voice there, too; when he wants to, Autry can roar and boom in the best Southern pulpit style. This serves him well in “Fairy Tale,” and bodes even better for his future work.
When all is said and done, this is a brave and entertaining piece of theatre, as well as a manifesto from a perspective not often found in gay theatre. And, based what we see in “A Southern Fairy Tale,” I bet that if you asked Ty Autry to I.D. the nature of the road out of Hell, he could do it in a single word, too.

And I bet that word would be “love,” which, when you think about it, isn’t really all that far a stretch from faith and fairy dust.


Read the full article by Kerric Harvey on our Facebook Page.


Festival Review 2019: The Number

The Number (runs with A Southern Fairytale) Teachers Club until Saturday 11th.

It’s nine p.m. in the Teachers Club studio theatre. A man walks out onto the stage, a man in casual pants and a flannel shirt, an ordinary man, someone you’d see walking down the street or waiting for a bus or trying to puzzle out how the hell to pay for parking at Dublin Airport.
This ordinary man walks out onto the stage, and begins to talk. And something extra-ordinary happens. For the next fifteen minutes, his quiet voice draws you into the photo album of his own early life, which, in some vague but palpable way, evokes your own memories, and invokes the ghosts of who you used to be, even if they look nothing like his.

But there is still a connection, somehow, between his tale and yours, which this honest and simple bit of beautifully structured first person story-telling establishes without fanfare, and with not a wasted word. In this short but memorable bit of biographical haiku, veteran DIGTF playwright/performer Simon Murphy has crafted a poetic intertwining of Ireland’s long journey towards decriminalisation with one lonely gay boy’s journey towards the man he would eventually become. In Limerick, no less.

It only lasts a quarter of an hour, but “The Number” makes a big point — the notion that “the personal” is also inescapably political, whether we like it or not. In doing so, it offers a little gem of personal reminiscence tucked around tectonic plate shifts in the public sphere of gay politics.


Read the full article by Kerric Harvey on our Facebook Page.


Festival Review 2019: Party Boy

Party Boy – Gay Theatre Festival – Review

Patrick, a young gay Irish man, is the star of Brian Merriman’s play “Party Boy”. Presented in the small, intimate space of the Players Theatre in Trinity College, the play takes the audience on a riveting journey through Patrick’s young life: and it’s all based on a true story.

The boy meets the scary spectre of homophobia from a very young age, spending the later years of his childhood exploring his sexuality in his first same-sex encounters. But soon Patrick’s heritage as a Catholic, gay, Irish boy comes knocking, and he finds himself presenting himself as straight. Episodes of traumatic bullying experiences in a Catholic school and his constant being harassed as “queer” force him into the closet.

Through it all, and able to see through the darkest of closets, stands Patrick’s mother. A no-nonsense strong woman, always available to listen to her young son’s needs, Maria Blaney brings on stage the Irish mammy we all wish we had.

Together with Colin Malone, the two actors provide great, entertaining support to Dave Flynn, taking on many different characters created with a simple prop or costume change, providing snippets into the rolling film of young Patrick’s life.

From Ireland to Australia and then back again: the sex is getting wilder and more available, his body is getting him a long way and he is riding the wave of the good life. But behind the flash and the –very in-your-face – live sex shows, a rot is starting to spread; drugs, alcohol and medicated sex. Gay men dying off like flies. Go-go boys dancing provocatively. Young Patrick’s life gives us all, especially for those who weren’t there to see it for themselves, an insight into what it meant to be gay in the early 2000s, and how important it is to be supported by your loved ones.

Patrick is one of the few that survived or avoided abusive relationships, AIDS, drug overdoses and falling into a desensitised and medicated life because of his life-buoy, his mother.

In an Ireland where homophobia still lurks on the streets, Patrick’s proud tale of his uninhibited life between sex, drugs and relentless loves is a cautionary tale (not to be taken too seriously!) for a young audience, a trip down memory lane for middle aged ones, and a great insight into what it means to be gay, to be sharing the life of the underground gay community and to instruct us all how it is, sometimes, good to just be a party boy.

Read the full article by Letizia Delmastro for No More Workhorse here.

An exuberant and chilling hurricane of a play

It’s all about the sex.
Except of course, it isn’t. Not really.

There is plenty of sex — don’t get me wrong. But Brian Merriman’s kaleidascopic 75-minute epic, “Party Boy,” is a more than just a peep show into the contemporary world of the gay male porn industry, with all of its glamour, heartache, and lethal drug scene.

It’s also a whirlwind journey through some of modern Ireland’s most complicated social issues, beginning with the historically repressive influence of the Catholic Church on, well, everybody, continuing on through the heady and tumultuous years of the Celtic Tiger, and venturing into Ireland’s vaguely uncertain future as the EU re-invents itself and the island struggles with related complexities arising from immigration, patchy economic stability, rapid social change, and escalating internationalism.

All of which sounds a whole lot more cerebral than “Party Boy” feels when you’re in the audience, completely immersed in the rapid-fire action and the glittering dialogue. Everything about this piece pulls you into it, from the first moment the young and beautiful protagonist, “Patrick,” arrives on stage as a winsome, winning pre-teen gay, to the final moments when he thrashes and flails against that most unrelenting of enemies of the club scene — the aging process. Along the way, we watch him reel from one lover to the next, from one social media “triumph” to another, and from one excruciatingly public sex act to even more graphic performances for even larger audiences. All the while convincing himself that this is what “success” looks like, feels like, in the newly liberated gay scene, despite the viciously oppressive nature of the porn industry and the spiraling mortality rates it provokes among its victims…who are also its biggest stars.

Actually, such is the artistry with which “Party Boy” is crafted that we don’t just watch Patrick as he soars towards his own destruction, so much as we actually join him on that gruesome but glossy trajectory. Every aspect of the dramatic arts is maximized to pull the viewer into Patrick’s world, as dangerously exotic as that world might be. A simple but effective set design and a soundtrack so perfect that, like a good football referee, it keeps the game going without calling overdue attention to itself, combine with creative blocking and almost acrobatic wardrobe changes that enable the two “supporting” players to portray a multitude of characters, some of which have a fleeting presence in Patrick’s life and others of whom are are the absolute bedrock without which it simply wouldn’t be possible. Casting is pitch-perfect, with a palpable rapport among the three players and deft directing encouraging award-worthy performances from each of them.

The principle bedrock presence is Patrick’s single-parent mother, played with artistry, compassion, and insight by Maria Blaney, who also “doubles” as the other female characters in the piece and, with great aplomb in one unforgettable scene, as a gay male stripper, which would surely qualify her for a “Good Sport Award” if the Festival had one. Like her two on-stage colleagues, Blaney repeatedly turns on a dime as she switches from one character and one time period to another, never missing a beat and managing to inhabit each of these various persona with equal ‘believability’ as they literally tumble down upon her.

Merriman is known for his commitment to writing parts for women that illustrate their pivotal role in Irish history and culture, even when that history and culture conspire to ‘invisiblise’ them, and “Party Boy” is no exception. But the on-stage role of “Patrick’s mother” is more than just the narrative glue that helps hold the play together in the same way that the real Patrick’s mother held his life. Blaney takes the opportunity presented by the figure of the relatively traditional Irish mother, who doesn’t understand her gay son but loves him with a desperate generosity, and runs with it. She runs far and fast, and brings the audience along with her to a new understanding of what “love” can look like.

By the time we’re halfway through the play, we’ve bought into her unconventional approach to keeping her son alive while others are falling all around him, despite what it costs her, personally, in social cachet and actual money. As “Gay Lib” caught hold and the drug use within club culture proliferated, there must have been thousands of mothers all over Ireland, faced with similar dilemmas and given no resources for dealing with them. Patrick’s mother emerges as the only real hero in this tale, with a quiet kind of valiance that achieves its goal without fanfare or joy.

Colin Malone turns in an equally stunning set of performances as an entire host of male characters populating Patrick’s life, a range of personae that includes his childhood play-mates, his lumpishly terrifying father, multiple lovers, and at least one good friend and potential life partner, whose devotion to the aging Patrick occasions the single most chilling line in the entire play. Malone is, quite literally, astonishing in his range and elasticity, moving from one persona to another with effortless ease and absolute authenticity. He is also quite a physical actor, adept at translating interior states into observable styling as well as impeccably accurate dramatic rendering, equally believable across a panapoly of ages, ethnicities, sexuality, and class. The directorial vision for this production of “Party Boy” requires huge athleticism from all of its cast members, but perhaps Malone most of all, since he must, literally, spin among stage persona as often as Blaney, but with more radical costume changes and often more theatrical phsyicality associated with them.

For instance, he plays a number of Patrick’s sex partners, some of whom are in it for the money more than for the pleasure and/or the glory of sleeping with Ireland’s most sought-after prince of gay go-go. This often requires him to take the lead in carefully choreographed sex scenes that cross classic porn rituals with kabuki-like staging, a physically taxing undertaking if ever there was one. Malone handles this, and more, with high style and convincing detail, keeping the show moving along its interstellar orbit at warp speed.

Dave Flynn’s rendition of the ‘party boy’ himself is, quite simply, electrifying. From the moment he walks onstage to the minute after the metaphoric curtain falls, he is a high-energy orb of pure visual delight. The man literally never stands still; even when he’s standing front and centre to the audience, pulling us into the next chapter of his life with another dense, rich monologue, he is bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet. “Patrick” is a man in motion just as much as his life is a hurricane of blurred faces, bad drugs, disposable friends and nameless yearning, in which only the sex itself stands out as memorable and momentarily real, until even that begins to falter.

Although, unlike his colleagues, Flynn inhabits only a single character throughout the course of the play, he still has to pivot in and out of radically different versions of that character, as Patrick grows from boy to man and then begins his odyssey deep into the dark life of commercial sex. He does this well and gracefully, never dropping a beat or missing a note as he whirls from one dizzying episode to another, always managing to bring us, the whip-lashed audience, along with him. It’s an almost impossible piece of stagecraft — and part of what makes this play a true stand-out in contemporary Irish theatre, as well as in gay drama, per se.

But Patrick’s story is not one great headlong scramble towards disaster. What really puts the stamp of  ‘unforget-ability’ on Flynn’s performance is the reckless joy with which he imbues his existentially doomed lead character. Patrick certainly faces some somber moments, and some horrifying ones, too. He is not impervious to the ‘lethality’ of the world in which he lives, and wants to dominate. He has a sense of “at what price stardom?” but he is also a flighty kind of pragmatist in that he seizes the opportunities of the moment without much thought for their eventual, cumulative impact over the full course of his life. He can also be carelessly ruthless, with his own body as well as with other people’s hearts. But as Flynn plays him, Patrick is also an enormously likeable character, a boy who never really grows into a man, despite having never really been a child in the first place. There is a fierce joy in him, a reckless but compelling exuberance, which makes his descent into self-destruction all the more crushing.

In some ways, although it takes place a bit later on the gay history timeline, Patrick’s story epitomizes the intoxicating sense of freedom that flooded gay communities everywhere during the early 1980’s, before AIDS and after the first wave of (relative) social tolerance began working its way into mainstream societies. Although Patrick’s personal story is the extreme version of that phenomenon, Flynn still harvests that soaring sense of collective identity and the eruptive glee of finally having places to go where one’s sexual self need not be strangled into silence in order to preserve one’s basic social viability. There’s a lot of backstory to “Party Boy,” and more to the hedonism of club culture than immediately meets the eye. Flynn’s nimble and sympathetic performance makes no excuses for the ravages that culture could inflict, but it also illuminates the complexities of it in rich and socially crucial ways.

At the end of the day, “Party Boy” is a tour-de-force that captures life on the hard-core club circuit with almost ethnographic accuracy, right down to weaving “tricks of the trade” and specialized lingo into the fast-moving main narrative. It is also ambitious in scope, sweeping outwards from Dublin to illustrate the global network in which Ireland is only one small part. I will never walk through an international airport again without wondering who, among my fellow passengers — male and female — might leave the Arrivals Hall only to sink into the grimy glitz of the international sex trade, in which even its stars are, in the long run, the bottom rung of the porn industry’s cannabalistic food chain. Merriman and the cast and crew of “Party Boy” have succeeded in creating that unicorn of the dramatic arts…a play that entertains, engages, and educates the audience by turns and sometimes simultaneously, and that changes how those viewers will forever see the world outside of the theatre walls.


Read the full article by Kerric Harvey on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: A Southern Fairytale / The Number

A Southern Fairytale/The Number, Teachers Club Studio until Saturday May 11th. There is a synergy between these two plays.

One (The Number) is set in Limerick in the 1990s and the other in rural Georgia two decades later. Similar issues, different journeys and better outcomes. Simon Murphy has a nice, evocative text about an emerging young gay student in Limerick in 1992/3. His shy deliberate performance relays in a gentle measured way the traumas of coming out in an alien culture. It is slowly delivered with much sincerity. It reminds one of the gentle souls caught up in a hostile Irish society that allowed no reference points and recalls how many struggled without ever dialing “the number” bravely supplied by the few out volunteers at that time. Roll energetically into the 21st century, and we meet the charming nerd that is Alex (Ty Autry). He is engaging, intelligent, aware and a Christian – a Southern version. US Christianity is almost as new as broadband! So many versions are plied, modified and enforced in the name of a universal God with very few discernible attributes. It’s an industry. The professed certainty is that his followers know exactly God’s intentions at all times! To present that “Christian” message in a county whose experience of such grotesque manifestations by a belief system which has damaged so many, is brave, new and important. The energetic and empathetic delivery helps to persuade at times but will it convince? Throw in conversion therapy, deluded characters, and a wholly dysfunctional family and you discover a range of chapters rarely seen in Fairytales. Alex goes through a lot, to introduce a character at the end as his best friend now, either to ensure the piece resolves is a truly Christian thing. Anyone who does to a child what that person did is no one’s best friend. Perhaps they have learned but “forgive and remember”. Ty Autry is packing them in with a capacity audience that wants to hear his journey. It is a finely executed, engaging performance that might well resonate in an Irish setting, long jaundiced by the hypocrisy of those who speak in God’s name. It’s a good double bill. It’s worth reflecting on both works later – have times changed that much? Does every fairytale guarantee a happy ever after? One thing has without a doubt- you can’t keep a bright kid down!

Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: The Baby Monitor

‘A Sensitive And Timely Play’: The Baby Monitor At International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

‘The Baby Monitor’ asks courageous questions about gay parenting, race and discrimination from loved ones – and it offers no easy answers.

“Stallings’ writing combines with Jones’ performance to ensure we cannot empathise with one without understanding the other”.

The Baby Monitor, written by David Stallings and directed by Antonio Miniño, has travelled to Ireland from New York. Given the current anxieties in this country around same-sex parenting, though, its themes feel alarmingly close to home.The play opens with gay fathers Damon and Phillip enduring a tense visit from Damon’s cousin Claire, a woman whose support for their new family only goes so far. As talk about politics is clumsily avoided and awkward comments on Phillip’s Dominican heritage stack up, we learn that – despite her genuine love for her cousin and her insistence that she supports gay rights – Claire has not entirely escaped the influence of the conservative family in which herself and Damon were raised.

Racked by grief over her own infertility, she allows herself to doubt the validity of her cousin’s family – and when a photo in Damon’s new family album exacerbates her anxieties about gay parenting, the results spiral out of control.

Stallings and Miniño, a married couple in real life, play the lead roles of Damon and Phillip. They are joined by a small cast portraying characters all bound by familial ties of one sort or another – Amanda Jones as Claire, Leo Goodman as her husband Josh, Greta Quispe as surrogate and nanny Soledad, and Mel House as egg donor Shelly. And this tight-knit cast really do feel like a family, each performance echoing and bouncing off the others with a skill that makes the relationships depicted appear hauntingly real.

The minimal set features four chairs and little else, besides a hanging line of children’s colouring pages painted by children in a real New York pre-school. The authenticity of this detail, noted in the play’s programme, sets the tone for a performance that feels unfailingly authentic.

No character in The Baby Monitor is reduced to a stereotype or a figurehead representing his or her worldview. Indeed, Damon and Phillip are far from idealised representatives of same-sex parenting. We realise, as the play progresses, that they have unwittingly placed their friend and surrogate Soledad in a position she finds emotionally unbearable. A Dominican song concerning a woman who gives away a child, recurring near the play’s conclusion, bears witness to the unmet needs of the woman who carried Damon and Phillip’s baby.

On a more mundane level, we see Damon release the anxiety he shares with his cousin in sometimes uncomfortable outbursts – at one point shouting at Soledad in front of company for forgetting not to buy a product on his personal (extensive) boycott list.

Two men standing beside each other holding hands. A woman behind them in the distance looking at them. This is a moment from the show The Baby Monitor

People connect over more than their political views, the play emphasises, but an inherited political bias can be enough to tear any connection apart. In one powerful scene, Damon is asked why he has failed to cut his dangerously homophobic cousin out of his life. The answer is simple: he has already cut out aunts, uncles and cousins by the dozen.

“I’m tired of telling people ‘Your views hurt me. Get out,’” Damon says, and his words resonate throughout this sensitive and timely play. Some in the LGBT+ community who have suffered discrimination from loved ones still love who have discriminated against them. We try to give people second chances, but it puts our safety at risk – and The Baby Monitor shows that, when we ask ourselves whether we should stop trying, there’s sometimes no easy answer.

Read the full article by Cassia Gaden Gilmartin in GCN here.

The Baby Monitor, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square, Dublin 2. This is a strong well presented piece of challenging theatre.

It’s core theme is judgement and it challenges the audience to do the same. Playwright David Stallings (Damon) has crafted some plausible characters with unpleasant attributes that reflect the shift in the values that were once the engine of “the land of the free”. Philip and Damon have a two year old son Caleb by a surrogate and their eclectic circle of friends form a strange and competitive family network. This is where judgement comes into play. The people, the parents bring into the boys life are motivationally suspect and emotionally damaged. Why do they do that? There is a self righteous neurosis running throughout the story, beautifully portrayed by Amanda Jones as Claire and Greta Quispe as Soledad the Nanny. Leo Goodman as Josh has a decency Caleb needs in his life and I hope he gets many an opportunity to throw a ball with him. Mel House (Shelley) has fire and a spirit Caleb will need to get through life and to survive this household. It’s a tale that resorts to cliche at times to evoke empathy but it doesn’t conceal the cracks in this fractured and ruthless family network. There are serious issues such as surrogacy, faith, values, racism and love all twisted up in a victimhood that really raises an eyebrow. We don’t see the argument used to restore justice, we never encounter the environment that gives us confidence justice will prevail. It’s all about the adults when it really should be about the child. Directed by Antonio Minino with considerable flow, this challenging play raises many contemporary issues, many unresolved legalities of “legitimate parenthood” and demands that judgement prevails. The risk to Caleb in this family is presented as sexual orientation – for me it was never that. It is the risk presented by damaged parents and very poor (though limited by circumstances) extended family choices. There is no warmth in that home. There is defence of being, emotional baggage in abundance, assertion of rights, and relentless adult selfishness. It left me gasping at dysfunction, not caused by orientation, but by personalities that were lacking in so many ways. This is a powerful play about damaged people in fraught circumstances. There were many fine performances, especially amongst the female actors. At times angst and self pity replaced emotion and empathy, as the characters drawn demanded. As an audience we wanted to have our say in the face of such selfishness. I stood up at the end. I worry for Caleb still. Go see it!

Read the full article by GF on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: I See You, Tom Kennedy

In the absence of any mainstream media reviews of our innovative work – we continue our tradition of inviting independent theatrically qualified reviewers to appraise the plays in the Festival.We will not be erased or silenced.

“I See You, Tom Kennedy” The Teachers Club,36 Parnell Square, nightly at 7.30pm

“Endings are always hard, especially when they don’t actually happen. A bad marriage, a medical catastrophe, an unpaid parking ticket, a root canal that seems like the reinvention of Purgatory, or a crisis of consciousness. Anything that goes on too long takes on a life of its own, usually to the detriment of everyone involved. It’s difficult, sometimes agonizing, to have the action stop before the story is over. Especially if it’s some one else’s story in which we played a pivotal role without even knowing it.

The protagonist in “Tom Kennedy” finds himself suffering from exactly this type of angst. He did something wrong, very early in his Garda career, something that seemed inconsequential at the time, but which ruined a man’s life. And now, 44 years later, he wants to talk about it. He wants to apologise. The Big Question, of course, is….Why?

And the Even Bigger Question is: Does he have a right to do so, or does his search for forgiveness only reinforce the kind of privilegde that let him inflict that long-ago damage in the first place?
“I See You, Tom Kennedy” is a big little play. It deals with issues both universal and specific, managing to fit a robust dose of modern psychology and moral complexity into an engaging and sophisticated 75 minutes. It must have been a difficult play to put on its feet, since much of the escalating tension is built around awkward silences and conversational false starts, both of which can be directorial nightmares. But “Tom Kennedy” succeeds beautifully in this, with pitch perfect timing in all the key places and a creative set design that maximizes the black box experience in an elegant and innovative way.

Set design, directing, blocking, and acting all speak to the “plus” side of the ledger in ways that enrich a short piece tackling massive issues. The chemistry between the penitent officer and his Garda daughter is especially vibrant, although all three characters are skillfully acted with commitment and professionalism. Solid performances by Tom Noone, Tom McGrath, and Clodagh Whelan clearly flourish under Siobhan Duggan’s deft directing, bringing into focus crucial questions about the relationship between past and present as a post-decriminalization Ireland tries to envision the future. If the script occasionally slides a bit towards glib solutions, it is still to be lauded for raising delicate but fundamental questions.

Production company Fior Sceal (“True Story” in Irish) has as part of its mission a desire to build theatre around true events and which addresses real issues. If “I See You, Tom Kennedy” is any indication of how the approach this, then Fior Sceal is a company to watch, especially in a social moment when the questions we think to ask are almost more important than “answers” we think we know.

Read the full article by KH on our Facebook page.


Festival Review 2019: Revolting Women

“I Remain A Rebel, Unconverted And Unconvertible”: Revolting Women At International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Running every night at 9pm until Saturday, 11 May as part of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Revolting Women is an honest look at Ireland’s rebel heroines.

In the wake of what have been massive strides taken for Irish women, from the historic win for repeal, to the ‘I believe her’ movement, and the slow unveiling of the Magdeline atrocities, constitutive of the reality of the oppressive church-state hybrid, Revolting Women – A Rebel Cabaret chronologically documents the women’s experience of Irish society from the 1916 Easter Rising in a vulnerable, buoyant collection of performances.

A mixed-media production, the all-female cast, or self-titled ‘rebel sisters’ use song, dance, film, and drama to tell the stories of Irish women, from prominent revolutionary figures such as Countess Markievicz, to everyday ‘superheroes’, highlighting both the struggle endured by Irish women, as well as their unfaltering strength in the face of adversity.

Promo for Revolting Women at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival featuring a young woman leaning against a wall holding a coffee cup

Donned in anachronistic dress and performing on a near-bare stage lit by a sole lamp in the corner, the rebel sisters filled the quiet, dark room with illuminating anecdotes, emotive renditions, and calls to action, emphasising the importance of those who came before us as integral to building a future for those who will follow.

Centred around the theme of rebellion, every piece endeavoured to tell a woman’s story, be it of the sex-workers struggle in an Ireland where colonial power had been replaced by church power, the LGBT+ experience told through “no star lesbian”, beautifully sung by BeRn, or a poignant dance piece of a working-class maid – the cabaret is a tribute to women who stood against the status quo and paved the way for the liberation we both enjoy and continue to seek, as ardently stated in one of the pieces: “I remain a rebel, unconverted and unconvertible”.

Drawing on heartstrings, inspiring giggles and raising fists, Revolting Women – A Rebel Cabaret is an honest production and a testament to the inextricable link between art and politics. 

Read the full article by Isidora Durán Stewart in GCN here.

Revolting Women – A Rebel Cabaret – International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

If ever a show did what it says on the tin it’s this one. It’s a celebration of 100 years of female rebellion and the fight for equal rights and a group of performers tell stories of protest and passion through music, dance, film and drama. Starting with a song called Grace Gifford about the wife of James Connolly from singer/songwriter BeRn the scene is set for an uplifting evening of female empowerment. Alongside the music there are short dramas about Countess Markievicz and the women of the Monto back in the day, inspired dance performances and a couple of thought-provoking videos from producer Sonya Mulligan.

The stage is draped with gold curtains, a kitsch lamp and fairy lights and is reminiscent of a turn of the century cabaret club. Each thread works as a standalone piece and audience members will all no doubt have their favourites. The songs are infuriatingly catchy although they are not all upbeat. Magdalene Laundry blues, in particular, is extremely poignant. A film clip called Funbags and Fannys drew many laughs while Yvonne Kavanagh’s three-part tune Struggling Woman, threaded throughout the work, has the audience clapping along before building to the finale where all of the cast and creatives take to the stage for the last chorus.

This really is a celebration of the feisty women who fought for equality as well as a nod to those who still continue to push for change. Unsurprisingly, the audience was predominately female although the men seemed to enjoy it also. I do wonder what a male reviewer would have made of it though.

My one bugbear was that some of the segues felt a bit clunky. However, this could simply be down to the restrictions of the venue. Despite this it was refreshing to see a proper cabaret performed with such passion.

Despite the fact that it celebrates struggle this is an extremely uplifting show and a wonderful tribute to some remarkable women. You don’t have to be a feminist to appreciate this. It is a wonderful evening’s entertainment featuring some very talented ladies that would even warm the cockles of Molly Malone herself.

Read the full article by Fran Winston on No More Workhorse here.


Festival Review 2019: Borderline A**hole

‘True Integrity In The Exploration Of Love And Loss’: Borderline A**hole At International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Julie Gieseke has brought her solo show Borderline A**hole to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival from the “lesbian capital of the world”.

After years of chasing unavailable women, Julie found her ideal girlfriend. She’s really into Julie. Miracle: This doesn’t make Julie want to run. The only trouble is they can’t agree on one thing – that Julie is the problem. Is Julie an asshole or a borderline? Julie can’t tell.

As part of this year’s International Gay Theatre Festival, the charismatic and curious Julie Gieseke has brought her solo show Borderline A**hole to the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival from the “lesbian capital of the world”, San Francisco.

It is hard to believe that Gieseke only began writing for stage 8 years ago when she took a solo performance workshop to get over her fear of public speaking. Through the workshop, she discovered that she actually loved performing her own writing.

She has gained an avid and loyal following for her no-holds-barred, courageous authenticity which we are treated to en masse in Borderline A**hole.

Borderline A**hole press shot featuring JULIE GIESEKE
Julie Gieseke

Julie brings us on her journey of meeting “the one” and along the way, the story unearths many great human truths performed wonderfully through layers of humour, sadness, curiosity and hope.

There is true integrity in the story’s exploration of love and loss that will resonate with many. This is due in no small part to Julie’s ability to make you feel like your talking to an old friend. The poetic rhythm and ease in which she tells the story with only the addition of two stools and lighting transport you to the situations she describes.

Her use of body language to embody the characters, evoke an emotion and create a situation is a real testament to Julie’s talent for storytelling.

Borderline A**hole is a time capsule of an emotional journey exploring mental health, grief and relationships. Do not miss the opportunity to see this five-star performance.

Read the full article by Katie Donohoe in GCN here.

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Borderline A**hole, Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street, Dublin 2 until Saturday 11th.

Julie Gieseke is an American storyteller of charm, insight, wit and wisdom. She lulls the audience into a false comfort with her mellow tones and gentle pace, but her observational skills are razor sharp. Julie is questioning. She holds herself responsible for her lack of a date and walks on eggshells to achieve her goal putting herself second. Her observations on her dating pool are wonderfully colorful and brutally honest. Quite easily, she could turn the piece into an angry rant against the stereotype but she is too clever for that, as she lays out all types for us to rant about if we choose to do. As with most reality TV or contemporary American storytelling, illness or tragedy is used to create empathy. Gieseke’s skills as a storyteller don’t need that but she dips in anyway. We sail through the expensive world of therapy until she is finally challenged about having a borderline personality disorder. Here our artist spares us the $6000 dollars and six months of sessions by condensing in a wonderful way, the therapy process into a few minutes of finely tuned theatre. Yes, amongst all the characters we meet, one does have a personality disorder. It’s not a borderline case either and spoiler alert – I didn’t think it was Julie – perhaps neither will you. An hour of warm womanly wisdom, cleverly told by an actor with a charming presence.

Read the full article by AO’B on our Facebook page.

Borderline A**hole – International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival – Review

Everyone has a type, or so we think. Julie was no different. She knew what kind of woman she liked and was so determined to find her, she had even employed a lesbian dating coach. But then she meets her dream woman who is nothing like what she envisaged for all these years. The only problem is that she thinks Julie may be borderline (suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder for those not in the know)  and isn’t prepared to be with her until she seeks help for her issues. Cue a one-hour journey through one woman’s struggle with her sense of self and her mental health all while dealing with her mother’s terminal illness an imminent demise.

Written and performed by Julie Gieseke this is a very genuine and moving piece. It is more like sitting listening to a friend lament their lack of dating success than a show. Admittedly, the Ireland Centre is an intimate venue but you get the impression that Gieseke could make an audience feel like that no matter how large the space was. It is almost conspiratorial – like you are being let in on a secret.

The writing is witty and poignant. When she talks about her mother you feel the genuine affection emanating from her. Her escapades with the dating coach are hilarious and her experiences in group therapy make for plenty of comedic moments. She has paced this well. It coasts along running the gamut of emotion. Throughout, Gieseke is engaging and genuine.

The lighting design is simple and effective. It doesn’t distract from one woman telling her story. The stage is sparse other than two stools which Gieseke utilises as props becoming everything from a sports car to luggage to the table in a fancy restaurant. While this mainly works there were one or two occasions where I found the constant playing with the stools somewhat distracting. It almost took me out of the story. Gieseke has enough presence and physicality not to have to rely so heavily on props.

You often look at one person shows and imagine how they would be if you expanded the world of the play and employed a few more actors but in this case it is difficult to imagine anyone other than Gieseke sharing this intimate story.

Extremely compelling, it is difficult to believe that Gieseke is only writing and performing for eight years. It is surprisingly endearing and warm, this doesn’t feel like an hour and when it ends you will find yourself wanting to know more.

Read the full article by Fran Winston for No More Workhorse here.


Festival Review 2018: PARTY BOY

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Play reading Party Boy Teachers Club Sunday May 13th

I dashed up O’Connell St. and stopped for an ever-present donut (crème-filled toffee with crumbles!) and coffee. I love going to Teachers (I’ve had a few shows there over the years). It’s a Georgian building with a black box theater in the basement, meeting halls and classrooms on the first floor, and a gorgeous bar on the second floor.

Near the top of the building, a couple dozen of us crowded into a meeting room for what was literally a table read: the actors sat behind a wooden table, and after a brief introduction by Brian, started reading the script.

I’m a fan of Brian Merriman the playwright, and have enjoyed his work, which frequently has a historical bent (“Eirebrushed,” “Wretched Little Brat”). This one is a departure for him. Inspired by a true story, “Party Boy” is the tale of a little gay boy who grows up in Dublin and Australia, and whose life and interests lead him into a career as a phone sex operator, a gym rat and trainer, and finally as a go-go boy and performer in live and filmed sex shows.

We’ve all seen the plays and read the books that tell and re-tell this story: most often they are morally superior, cautionary tales of young men gone astray and whose lives end all too soon because of an excess of everything, especially drugs. What makes this story different is that the boy has a mother who gives him unconditional love; she always takes him in when he comes home, and serves as both anchor and guide to him.

Party Boy faces not just the generalized homophobia of his home countries and communities, but also the approbation of a sex-negative society that lives to vilify sex workers (while always partaking of their services).

In a country and culture shaped by Catholic guilt and shame, Party Boy mostly takes to other countries to make a living, find companionship, and look for what he needs (which he doesn’t even know most of the time.)

Brian had hoped to stage the show this festival, but in real life, he had a hard time finding actors who were not afraid to take on a role that might carry such a weight of disapproval from the public. Delicate, toxic masculinity kept actors from playing an amazing role, actors who gave all kinds of reasons, except that they were afraid of it.

Brian read the role of Party Boy himself, with Maria Blaney playing the Mother, and Colin Malone playing all the other parts. (He f*cking nailed it, as we say in the theater.) Lia Caira did stage directions.

The reading kept us rapt, and it was real, urgent applause that erupted at the end. I’m sorry it’s not a full production in this festival. I know it will be seen, not just in Dublin, but other places. (I have my thoughts on its next steps, but never give critique unasked.)   KW


Kathleen Warnock is a renowned playwright and theatre producer based in New York.


2018 Programme Preview: Who We Are & Who We Were

Festival 2018 is a year of celebration, marking 15 years of IDGTF and 25 years since decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland.

In our programme we explore the diverse lives of LGBT people today – through comedy, drama, short-plays and powerful stories from around the world.


Cruising, getting married, LGBT families, staying together through ups and downs… we look at online hook-ups, the perils of lesbian dating, young LGBT couples, older gay men and bisexual love both male & female.

We tell intimate personal stories and shatter sexual taboos.




We ask… how much has LGBT life changed from the past?  How much has it remained the same?

We celebrate and reimagine past icons – Wilde, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Tennessee Williams and more with humorous, moving and erotic stories.


We shine a spotlight on pre-decriminalisation Ireland  – from quirky and dark secrets of the Catholic Church to powerful accounts of the  homophobia of the past – and look at LGBT struggles and triumphs from places as far apart as rural Ireland, Taiwan and the USA.

Find out more in our programme with secure online booking available now.

Keep watching and Facebook for more details.


Review 2017: Love Trumps Everything / How We Glow

Love Trumps Everything *** How We Glow *****

(Review published in  Check out more Festival reviews at here)

The appearance of Trump in the title Love Trumps Everything, has nothing to do with the orange man in the Whitehouse. Instead, it’s the thread that loosely binds three short plays where love overcomes life’s unavoidable obstacles. The first layer in this sandwich is Carolyn Gage’s ‘Calamity Jane Sends a Message to Her Daughter’, an intriguing story, brilliantly delivered by Maria Blaney and well directed by Philippa Alford. If it wasn’t altogether clear to me how this piece fitted into an LGBT festival, that’s no matter.

The sandwich filling is light. Kathleen Warnock gives us a personal insight into her journey to equal marriage with ‘How To Get Married in Five Steps and 17 Years’. And then, we are topped with Candice Perry’s ‘Made in Heaven’. This is a very amusing tale which suggests that in heaven, the big G will make sure we spend eternity with the right partner, even if it’s not who think it is!

Love Trumps Everything – ‘Made in Heaven’

A welcome accompaniment to these pieces is How We Glow, a cleverly crafted verbatim script woven from interviews with LGBT youth in New York. It is wonderfully performed by a bunch of bright, beautiful actors and certainly left me with reassurance that the kids really are alright.

Much credit to Jamila Humphrie and Emily Schorr Lesnick for this refreshing and important social document.


Brian Higgins

‘Love Trumps Everything’ and ‘How We Glow’ continue at the Teacher’s Club until May 13 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm, tickets here




Review 2017: Spool

Review – Spool

The Teachers’ Club 9pm until Sat May 13 (matinee: Sat 13 @ 4pm)

Written and Directed by Otto Farrant & Finn Cooke

Spool is an introspective analysis about what it’s like to be a young man.  Honest, candid and raw, it shows the inner-monologue that haunts every young man and the extreme pressure they can sometimes put themselves under.  These pressures often manifest themselves ten fold in gay men and it’s for that reason that this piece is a skillfully judged and important addition to an LGBT festival programme.

Finn Cook (Mind) is as skilled a poker-faced actor as Otto Farrant (Body) is a contemporary dancer.  Attached initially with a piece of rope, their use of expressive movement, where body ‘spools’ information to feed the mind is a joy to watch.  Ultimately, body and mind fall out and agree to separate, leading to a series of interpretive scenes that show just how important it is for Mind and Body to work together.


Giving an intelligent nod to the working methods of Frantic Assembly and the early workings of The Marx Brothers, this is a well thought though and ridiculously originally piece of work.  Spool seems an unlikely context for a winning double-act, but these talented young men have the potential to be to theatre what Penn and Teller are to magic.

As important to starting a conversation about Mental Health issues in young men, as it is to emerging artists and original and unique performance style – Spool will impress and delight you and must be seen.


May, 11 2017