From Thursday October 6 to Saturday October 8, Draíocht, Blanchardstown; then from Wednesday 12 October to Sunday 16 October, Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire; book here
There’s nothing like a wedding to make you re-evaluate your own marriage. That’s what Mairead (Janet Moran) and Mal (Andrew Bennett) find out when they’re invited back to Mairead’s hometown for her cousin’s wedding. This new play from monologue master Eugene O’Brien returns to the fictional town of Offaly immortalized on stage in his 2000 play Eden and on the small screen in the 2005 drama series Pure Mule. Directed by Jim Culleton, Heaven is a harrowing and harrowing tale.
From Wednesday September 28 to Saturday October 8; Project Arts Center (Cube); book here
Loosely based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, director Dan Colley has found a kingdom in a care home, where Joy (Venetia Bowe), a woman with dementia, lives in an old memory. How much of the past counts for our present? Or “Who can tell me who I am?” A former member of the family group Collapsing Horse, Colley is known for his visual inventiveness and playful aesthetic. With Lost Lear, he turns his attention to a teenage audience. The allusive and loose nature of the adaptation may not be helpful as part of a school curriculum, but it will certainly inspire many questions.
The boy who never was
From Wednesday October 12 to Sunday October 16; Samuel Beckett Theatre; book here
The Boy Who Never Was is an adaptation of the novel Moonstone, by Icelandic poet Sjón, who wrote the critically acclaimed film The Northman, released earlier this year. Set in 1918, in the aftermath of World War I, this queer coming-of-age tale, with its post-pandemic setting, is also a tale of our time. What is history, after all, if not a cyclic reel: one thing after another? Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurosson collaborates with the visionary Irish directors behind Brokentalkers for heightened cultural authenticity.
From Friday October 14 to Saturday October 15; O’Reilly Theatre; book here
For his third visit to the Dublin Theater Festival, Italian avant-garde director Romeo Castellucci presents Bros, a comedy about control and conscription. A group of volunteers is recruited before each performance to carry out orders, relayed live on stage through individual headsets. Dressed as police officers, they carry out their instructions in real time. Castellucci was trained as a visual artist and Bros bears his signature stylized aesthetic. Despite the humor, this is not theater for the faint-hearted.
From Monday October 3 to Tuesday October 4; Project Arts Center; book here
If you’re a kid in the late 1990s wondering about the women in the background of music videos that played on repeat on MTV, this Dutch/Belgian performance by Cherish Menzo is the show for you. . Performed to an R&B soundtrack created by Michael Nunes, Menzo is Video Vixen, the Hip Hop Honey of popular culture. Can she reclaim the hyper-sexualized stereotype of women of color using only her body?
The last return
From Thursday 13 October to Saturday 15 October; Gate Theatre; book here
Fresh off its Edinburgh Fringe Festival triumph, the Druid Theater production of Sonya Kelly’s The Last Return has returned to Ireland for a four-week run at the Gate Theatre. Kelly’s comedy is an inspired meta-theatrical conception, set in the lobby of a theater as a group of budding spectators await their fate. The plot tension (will they enter to see the sold-out show or not?) is not as important as Kelly’s intention: to expose the relationship between the colonial past and the neo-capitalist present. It’s hilarious, shocking and thought-provoking stuff.
Great Sweet Day
From Wednesday September 28 to Sunday October 2; The Ark; book here
If you haven’t heard of “puddling,” you must be over six years old. Place a young child in front of a puddle and watch what happens. The ensuing act, “puddle”, is an unparalleled sensory pleasure. In Grand Soft Day, Branar celebrates the surprises of a rainy day with non-verbal physical storytelling that uses live music, composed by Greg Hall, and colorful boots, by Elaine Mears, to remind adult children that being muddy and wet is a pleasure worth pursuing. Suitable for an audience of 2 to 6 years old.
From Thursday September 29 to Saturday October 15; The Abbey Theater; book here
In the year that Joyce’s Ulysses celebrates its centenary, The Abbey Theater pays tribute with a new play by Edna O’Brien, which turns its attention to the women in Joyce’s life: his wife, Nora and daughter, Lucia; his patron Harriet Weaver Shaw; its publisher Sylvia Beach. The writer himself also appears, but O’Brien presents him through the eyes of the many women who loved and supported him throughout his life. Conall Morrison leads a cast that includes Hilda Fay, Bríd Ní Neachtain and Deirdre Donnelly, with Stephen Hogan as Joyce.
The cold sings
From Wednesday 5 October to Sunday 9 October; The Depot @ The Complex; book here
It’s been almost 60 years since Sylvia Plath’s fictional account of her teenage nervous breakdown, The Bell Jar, was published. Choreographers Jessica Kennedy and Megan Kennedy have created a new dance piece that draws on the novel, as well as Plath’s poetry and diaries, to dive deep into the mind of the famous poet, while probing cultural expectations and attitudes towards mental health and women’s suffering. With live music and song, text and dance, Junk Ensemble aims for an immersive experience that will complement the quirky Smithfield venue.
Dinner with Groucho
From Monday September 26 to Saturday October 1; Civic Theatre; book here
In 1961, the English modernist poet TS Eliot wrote to actor Groucho Marx, proclaiming his admiration for the American actress. Three years later, they met in London for dinner at Eliot’s. Playwright Frank McGuinness dreamed up the occasion, in which very different performers break bread and philosophize about the universe, under the gaze of a mysterious landlord, who makes sure the unlikely pair respect his ways. Directed by Loveday Ingram, the B*spoke production stars Ian Barthlomew as Marx and Greg Hicks as Eliot.
Also performing at the Dublin Theater Festival:
The Blackwater Lightship: A long-awaited adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s HIV novel is coming to the Gaiety stage, starring David Rawle.
How to become a dancer in seventy-two thousand easy lessons: Choreographer Michael Keegan Dolan stages his own life in this autobiographical performance performed with his dance and life companion, Rachel Poirier.
Good sex: Do intimacy coordinators kill intimacy in art? Dead Center with Emilie Pine investigates, with new configurations every evening.
Transpofágico Manifesto: Brazilian actress and transgender anthropologist Renata Carvalho tells the story of a life of somatic struggle, in Portuguese with English surtitles.
Lolling / All the Toughest Women: Immersive installation creators Louise Lowe and Owen Boss stage episodes five and 14 of Ulysses as part of Ulysses 2.2, with the locations (Kennedy Pub and Holles Street Hospital) playing the lead roles.
GOD (Good. Orderly. Direction): A new piece by Lee Coffey on AA and the difficulties of recovery at Axis Ballymun.
Colic: How does a marriage survive a baby with colic? Playwright Eoghan Quinn has some suggestions in his new parenting drama.
No magic pill: Activist Martin Naughton is the inspiration for this Christian O’Reilly drama about disability and disruption.
What we hold: Jean Butler of the original Riverdance troupe returns to her Irish dancing roots to ask questions about tradition.
Animals: George Orwell’s Animal Farm is reimagined with an irreverent invention by Louise White.
Window a world: Hong Kong-Irish theater maker Choy-Ping Clarke-Ng invites you to take a peek into her world.
A whistle in the dark: Tom Murphy’s classic family drama, starring Sean McGinley in the lead role.
Crowd: Watch the dance floor in this techno-trance performance by French choreographer Giséle Vienne.
They Live (They Live): Two friends meet in a forest of an ashram of the future to discuss philosophy and Pokémon.
The Realist Jones: A new suburban drama from Will Eno, in which fantasy and reality intertwine when the Joneses meet the Joneses.
Unless you lie: A theatrical TED Talk by Belgian director Luanda Casella, who plays with the idea and the deceptions of performance.
Raise the average: Industrial ideologies are scrutinized in this Dutch-Belgian collaboration, interpreted in English.
Fatal on the farm: Futuristic eco-fable set in post-human times, where birds miss scarecrows.
Book these shows on dublintheatrefestival.ie