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.
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 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.
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!
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.
‘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.
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
By Jim Dalglish
Directed by Jim Dalglish & Ian Ryan
The Pearse Centre 7:30pm until Sat May 13; €10 matinee @ 4pm Sat May 13
Without wanting to give anything away, Lines in the Sand achieves something unique. The audience is left to wonder where the hell we are and what the hell is happening. As we uneasily let our minds race in all directions, trying to second-guess the clever writing of Jim Dalglish is impossible.
Nick Bucchianeri (Boy) should be applauded. A skilful and natural young actor, being given such layered and challenging material at such an age demonstrates how talented he really is. Tony Travastino (Man) doesn’t go easy on him either and it’s his confident and unwavering approach, to play the truth of his character – without compromise, that grips you right from the opening scene.
Whilst cleverly twisting and turning, at times, Boy seems to break into heartfelt monologue with insight and knowledge way beyond his years and his character arc seems somewhat implausible at times, given that these events only happen over one night. This really should be a full length production where character progression can be slowed, ensuring we see all the stages of how these two men deal with their unexpected meeting.
Where this play ultimately succeeds however is in is how it deals with the detail of what has happened surrounding this story. As an audience, we are left to conjure up our own images. It is this clever technique, utilizing the audience’s ability to imagine what they don’t want to imagine that raises the stakes, taking us with these characters and makes us care as if we were there.
A brave psychological thriller, Lines in the Sand explores the struggles of growing up gay and the dangers boys and young men face whilst they try to desperately ‘find a place where you aren’t afraid to be who you are inside’.
Now, I don’t know much about boxing but I do remember former Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury got into hot water last year over his comments on gay people, causing a flurry of news headlines on whether he was entitled to be shortlisted as BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. This brought up the subject of not only homophobia in boxing, but homophobia in sport in general.
In Hope Theatre Company’s Gypsy Queen, Ryan Clayton (those eyes!) plays Dane Samson, an out and proud gay boxer who has fought the struggles of homophobia within the boxing community and won. Rob Ward (also the writer of this piece) plays ‘Gorgeous’ George O’Connell, who is about to embark on not only a professional boxing career but a gay love affair he never saw coming.
From the get go both actors bounce with energy through a flurry of characters, including Samsons’ secret fuck-buddy (again beautifully played by Ward). A special mention also must go to Clayton’s, Aunt Rose. It takes some balls to try your hand at the Irish accent in front of a home crowd, and although it was hard to pinpoint exactly which county the accent came from, it was still a charming attempt!
I was taken aback at how well their faces and physicality changed for each character each actor played. Both Ward and Clayton chew up the scenery in the moving final scenes of this piece. Hats off to Adam Zane for his stellar work in direction and Ward’s writing was so good, I didn’t see the time go by at all
Gypsy Queen continues at The Players Theatre at 7.30pm until May 13, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm, tickets here.
Here’s a show that packs a punch with a diamond-clad fist! Masterfully written and performed by Margo MacDonald, The Elephant Girls recounts the escapades of a real-life, all-women gang, who roamed the London streets in the 1920s.
We enter this hard and harsh world by way of having a drink with Maggie, one of the gang’s toughest members. She has a scowling face and rough voice, which contrast sharply with her impeccably tailored suit and coiffed hair. It is a cruel world she inhabits, and Maggie has learned to savagely survive it.
Maggie’s relationships with other women range from adoration to disgust. She uses and abuses some, while demonstrating total loyalty and commitment to others. Recounting a fascinating story, MacDonald gives a very powerful and captivating performance, deftly guiding us through this dark world of crime and cruelty. This one is well worth a watch.
The Elephant Girls continues at the Outhouse Theatre at 9.00pm until May 13, with a matinee on Saturday ay 2.30pm, tickets here.
FESTIVAL REVIEW: The Elephant Girls runs at Outhouse until Saturday at 9pm Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Canadian Margo Mac Donald dons a mafia style pin strip suit to tells us the fascinating story of the East End of London’s notorious lesbian gang, which terrorised, lusted, controlled and rampaged through London for almost a century. Maggie Hale (Mac Donald) is our butch guide through the fascinating of power and criminality at a time when London’s underground pulsated with life, death and hidden passions.
Grappling and succeeding with a cockney accent, this super smooth no holds barred narrative is gripping, creepy and criminal. Directed by Mary Ellis we encounter Hale in a bar and after a few pints she begins to spill the beans on a century of secrecy that is a riveting as it is revealing. Beautifully and assuredly played, the gang undoubtedly did succeed and endure, if all its members packed a lunch like Mac Donald’s assured gender stretching performance delivered with charm and aplomb.
You will not know this story, but you will know the characters intimately by the time the story of the Elephant Girls concludes. It is a fascinating insight to a chapter of the hidden history of lesbianism condemned to the shadows and for far too long. The bright light shone by writer Mac Donald is truly illuminating – her performance memorable.
A must see. AO’B
FESTIVAL REVIEW: Spool runs at The Teachers Club until Saturday 9pm and Saturday has a matinee at 4pm.
Two handsome young men are tied together in a beautiful exploration of the pressures faced by young men in exploring modern masculinity. Engagement with social media can confuse and prioritise the physical self from the critical uniqueness of the individual – the emotional self. How do you survive today if one dominates the other? Finn Cooke and Otto Farrant demonstrate how these two are different – one balletic, one literal, both are inter-dependent. Both sleep, wash, play, breath and dance together in perfect harmony. The pressures of modern existence become too much when one feels he can survive away from the other.
This is a blend of physicality, dance and intellect with some beautiful balletic moments, strong and humorous imagery, innocence and relevance. Farrant and Cooke shed all physical inhibition to blend, perform and flow together until cut in two. Can one survive just in body or just in mind in modern society where image is all and communication of the person’s value diminishing in a virtual world?
This melodic duet of body and mind is perfect for audiences of all ages – it explores masculinity in a beautiful form rarely seen and that is just one of the clever levels unmasked in this delightful gem developed by two young performers with a lot to say. Don’t miss it. GF
FESTIVAL REVIEW: Lines In The Sand
The Pearse Centre Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street 7.30pm Saturday matinee 4pm.
Lines In The Sand by Jim Dalglish is a real thriller on so many levels. It is a dramatic thriller as this older man rescues a 15 year old boy from a violent altercation in the woods. Why has he been stalking him? It is a production thrill in the quality of the on stage work at all levels. This very fine production co-directed by Dalglish and Ian Ryan is edgy, atmospheric and gripping. Nick Bucchianeri as the 15 year old boy is stunning, vulnerable, brave, sensible and loyal. Tony Travostino as the Man, is rugged, sinister, tough, warm, and plausibly regretful.
The dynamic on stage between these two actors is at times heart-stopping. Set in a small town in the US over a 24 hour period, the sense of place is beautifully illuminated with graphics by Jackie Reeves and well timed sound effects. These two Man and Boy are from the lower end of the social order dealing with the impact of drugs, religion, sexuality, violence and crime. The pace pushes ahead of the plot in a manner that increases the intensity and unlocks the reason this older man followed a group of teenagers into the woods. The resulting 24 hours show the humanity and the maturity of uncovered hopes and dreams.
You won’t have seen a play quite like this before under the banner of lgbt theatre and you won’t wonder why it is such a worthy inclusion in the programme – it is so well done.
Runs until Saturday. DM
Our Week 2 programme running from May 8 to 13 has it all!
Love, crime, comedy, tense drama, touching true stories, critically-acclaimed drama, dance and more!
Lines in the Sand: a riveting and suspenseful drama where a vulnerable gay student falls under the spell of an older man.
Gypsy Queen: an unlikely relationship starts between two boxers. Already promising to be a hit of week 2, from the writer of ‘Away From Home’.
The Elephant Girls: don’t miss this critically-acclaimed show, the amazing true story of the rise and fall of an all-female criminal gang who ruled South-East London.
Queers: in modern London a diverse range of LGBTQ and straight-ish characters tell their intertwining stories.
From the director of our 2016 smash-hit 5 Guys Chillin’
A Peculiar Arrangement – Mike is engaged to Jenny but then he meets John… Things are about to get a lot more complicated in this dark piece.
Love Trumps Everything / How we GLOW – four stories celebrating LGBT people in America – real stories of young New Yorkers, Calamity Jane, marriage ‘made in heaven’ and more.
Joto! Confessions of a Mexican Outcast – the touching, funny true story of being the ultimate outsider. The perfect antidote for anyone suffering from Trump overload!
Spool is a critically-acclaimed must see. A young man’s mind and body interwine through dialogue and dance.
FESTIVAL REVIEW: An Unexpected Party
runs until Saturday 6th at the Teachers Club.
My Saturday matinee was spent at festival newcomers An Unexpected Party. This new Irish play and its author Simon Murphy says something important about suicide. It unpacks the aftermath and the blame in a manner necessary to bring a national conversation forward. To paraphrase: ‘if you don’t name it – it doesn’t exist”. We all know suicide exists in the lgbt community but it gets away with being nailed, as people don’t name it for what it is and it’s lingering legacy endures and hurts too many and too long. There is humour in this play too but despite the good playing from the female characters (best friend and sister), it definitely needed a better on-stage treatment than managed by director Brian Quinn and his cast.
Firedoor’s cast have an empathy and charm but the production is stilted, the humour unnecessarily pointed up and there is an uneveness in the casting. There are many endings suggested in the piece and I am not convinced the optimum was chosen by Murphy, though it did diffuse the subject matter to ease the audience out of the challenges posed. Perhaps Zach’s wisdom, beyond his years, could be the key to a more impactful drama, as he was rather diminshed by the camp exit having made his contribution to the plot, in a bizarre but effective role. GF
Review from theartsreview.com
May 3, 2017 by Chris O’Rourke
In his excellent comedy show, “Smart Casual,” comedian David Mills tops his list of things that have gone out of fashion, but haven’t quite realised it yet, with gay. For Mills, as for many others, gay is so over. They could have a point. Marriage equality, corporate sponsorship of Gay Pride, the Eurovision Song Contest, Graham Norton, gay has become so mainstream, it seems it practically is the mainstream. Some would even go so far as to argue that there’s no longer a need for a Gay Pride parade. So is there a need for an International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival? In light of the above, you could argue, possibly not. Yet in light of the mass shooting in Pulse Nightclub in Florida almost a year ago, and of what’s reported to be happening in Chechnya today, you might say it’s needed now more than ever.
At its best, gay theatre has produced some hugely important works and world class writers over the centuries. There are countless precedents here, from Oscar Wilde, the original inspiration for the IDGTF, through to “Torch Song Trilogy,” “Angels in America” and our own “High Heels in Low Places,” to name but a few. Standard bearers dealing with relevant issues, be that AIDS or homophobia, as well as hugely important theatrical works in their own right. With works from homegrown acts, as well as an international contingent from England, the U.S.A., Germany, Canada, Mexico and Scotland, IDGTF certainly has high ambitions of being part of that theatrical legacy. But can the largest LGBT festival in the world deliver on those ambitions?
On the evidence of “Bleach” by British writer and performer, Dan Ireland-Reeves, produced by British Exist Theatre, the IDGTF is certainly off to a solid start. A one-man performance, “Bleach” weaves a dark tale of Tyler Everett, a small-town boy in the big, London smoke, who becomes a rent boy for the money, and for the sex. You have to enjoy what you do, Tyler claims, and he most certainly does, with his quicksilver knapsack full of all the essentials he needs to make the night work. Maybe it’s because he’s now a Londoner, but money is what matters most at the end of the day, and any way you can get it is okay in the end, right? Yet in the streets and penthouses of London, the havoc a rent boy subjects his body to is nothing compared to the insidious damage to his soul, sold, like his body, for whatever he can get for it. In the end, it might all be too much, living life so close to the dark it could be snuffed out in a moment. But when the road to hell is littered with not just good intentions, but bad ones too, or no intentions at all, seeking the ultimate disconnect from yourself might just be the inevitable, final disconnect to top all those that have already gone before.
With “Bleach” Dan Ireland-Reeves delivers a powerful, gripping and intelligent script that walks through the clichés, yet avoids them in the process. Yes, there’s drugs, danger, sex, and even dangerous sex, but that’s not where the darkness lies. From the outset, Tyler Everett’s darkness is a darkness of the soul, one that disconnects him morally and personally from all that he knows should matter, allowing him to do those darker things he knows he should never accept as normal. He wants it to matter, yet he’s driven to explain why it doesn’t, to rationalise it, excuse it, and himself, begging for your forgiveness and understanding, yet not really caring enough if you do understand. Throughout “Bleach,” interest is maintained in Tyler’s struggles, for the most part, though it does slacken off about the three-quarter mark for a spell when musings become ramblings, losing a little of their impact in the process. Yet once normal service resumes, Tyler’s harrowing tale becomes all the more harrowing for being utterly recognisable. The context might be that of a rent boy in extreme circumstances, but the moral and personal experience it speaks to is frighteningly familiar.
Ireland-Reeves as Tyler delivers a deceptively understated performance, offering what almost looks like raw inexperience at times, that’s utterly beguiling and wonderfully effective. His portrayal of a young man whose soul is almost extinguished, dimmed down to the point where there’s just enough light left to highlight the darkness, just enough feeling left to know he feels nothing, is always credible and engaging, showing just enough naivety and vulnerability to remind us that there is still someone here worth saving. Director Bethan Francis keeps pace moving along, delivering a production that, if it shows a little anxiousness in places, hits just the right level of intensity for the most part.
There may be something old-school-fringe about IDGTF, with its off-centre and underground venues, but sometimes that’s where precious gems are found. “Bleach” is one such gem. For IDGTF isn’t just about representing, or celebrating, gay culture through theatre, it’s also about interrogating it, questioning it, as part of the larger human experience. This “Bleach” does very, very well. Pulling no punches, “Bleach” doesn’t feel the need to rain them down on you either, and becomes even more powerful for not trying to be overtly powerful. A potential underground classic, “Bleach” could very well turn into an over ground success. Be able to say you saw it when, and go see it now.
“Bleach” by Dan Ireland-Reeves, produced by British Exist Theatre, runs at The Outpost, Capel Street, as part of The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival until May 6th
Review from TheOutmost.com here. Check out TheOutmost.com for more reviews throughout the Festival.
I suspected we were in for a great time at this show when the doormen of the Paradise, Bernard and Maggie (played hilariously by Sean Denyer and Justine Reilly) were already interacting with the queue, and stamping us with ‘tramp’ or ‘slut’ (FYI: I was judged to be a tramp) on our wrists as we waited.
Presented at the festival by Dublin’s LGBT community theatre group, Acting Out, The Paradise follows a group of friends in 2015 who are meeting up for the closing night of Dublin’s oldest gay club. The return of one of them, Colm (strongly played by Paul Clarke), after a 20 year absence, leads to a flashback to 1993, as a set of events unfolds which will affect them all in different ways over the decades.
A cast of 14 throw themselves into the action with great gusto, and there are some lovely performances, notably from Rachel Fayne as the politically correct Orla, and David Morgan as the excitable Billy. Billy suffers from an unrequited passion for Colm, which is played out in the gorgeously plaintive song, ‘If I were A Pet Shop Boy’. The songs by Mark Power (who also plays the wonderfully old-style club owner, Eva Destruction) and Ian Henderson, of Irish electro-pop duo Eden, are brilliant, ranging from a gorgeous torch song, ‘Never Again’, to the very catchy dance number, ‘Going Going Gone’.
The stand-out performance comes from Lorcan McElwain as Irma La Douche, Colm’s old flame. She looks stunning, has a beautiful voice and can put you down with a withering comment at 20 paces (and writer Sean Denyer supplies her with many choice ones).
Musicals are very hard to do, and hats off to director Howard Lodge and choreographer Nichola Mooney for pulling it off. For a community theatre group to put on such an ambitious project and succeed so well, is a testament to the talent in the LGBT community. Thoroughly entertaining.
The Paradise continues at The Complex at 9pm until May 6, with a matinee on Saturday at 4pm. Book here or pay on the door.
Review from TheOutmost.com here. Check out TheOutmost.com for more reviews throughout the Festival.
This is the third visit to the festival by Canadian company Theatre Outré and this time they present Montparnasse, created by Erin Shields, Andrea Donald and Maev Beaty and set in Paris of the roaring 20s.
The performances by the two leads, Kathy Zaborsky as the model Mags and Carolyn Ruether as the artist Amelia are excellent, with a teasing and passionate chemistry between them which builds as the play proceeds. Nick Bohle, plays several smaller roles as well as providing delightful musical accompaniment.
The play has unexpected moments of humour throughout, and a lyrical romanticism that comes out of an era that may seem surprisingly open. It presents us with an unapologetic hymn to the beauty of the female body, and the nudity that the play requires seems an essential element of the piece, which is sensitively directed by Jay Whitehead. It is very rare to see such a body-positive portrayal of women in theatre, and it is long overdue. Montparnasse makes a very considerable contribution to correcting that deficit.
Montparnasse continues at the Players Theatre at Trinity College at 9pm until May 6, with a matinee this coming Saturday at 2.30pm, tickets here.