Dublin Fringe: festival launches a stylish programme

Capital city hosts 80 productions, from club culture and female sexuality to comedy and new theatre

Takes on female sexuality and sexual experiences feature in a number of shows in this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival, which is launched tonight (Wed July 11). The multidisciplinary arts festival, which runs for 16 days in September, features 80 productions, 554 performances, with 55 world premieres all over the capital city.

Women's sexuality crops up in various guises in Fringe shows. Cock Cock, Who's There? by 26 year old documentary maker Samira Elagoz, reconstructs the raw aftermath of a sexual assault in a performance about violence and intimacy. In Unwoman Part III (by leading Australia feminist theatre company The Rabble and Irish artist Maeve Stone) stars Olwen Fouere as a post-menopausal woman who carries her unborn child, subject to constant physical labour. Lady Grew, who's been called "Ireland's Favourite Courtesan", does a comic turn with her back against a brick wall in Hookers Do It Standing Up. And Soho Theatre and Fishamble present Drip Feed by Karen Cogan, a fast-paced new play about sexuality, the messiness of being youngish, female and queer in 1990s Ireland.

This is the 24th edition of a festival that prides itself on developing new talent: performers such as Alison Spittle and Rusangano Family, and the hit play Dublin Oldschool (the movie version is now in cinemas) started at Dublin Fringe. Its new artistic director Ruth McGowan described the programme as "pulsing with energy, adventure and joy. It's a festival of firsts - each of the 80 events are brand new and happening in Dublin for the very first time at Fringe. We're introducing the essential voices you need to hear from - I can't wait for you to meet them."

The 23 venues include unusual ones, such as City Hall, Stephen’s Green, outside the GPO, inside your earphones, a vintage bus travelling around Phoenix Park, and on the heads of Dublin statues.


The Fringe parts into a number of strands this year, including a focus on Club Culture, with throbbing dancefloors and hot gigs; “Inventors & Mavericks” (live art, dance, theatre, music and “genre-bending performance”); 13 new plays; stand-up, improv and musical comedy; five cool shows in Fringe for Young , in association with Collapsing Horse; intimate sound art, live art and visual art; and dance, circus, performance and physical theatre.

Some highlights include: The Money by Kaleider Productions (UK), a cross between a game and a theatrical performance, where the audience in City Hall has an hour to decide unanimously how to spend a pot of real cash. Foil Arms & Hog, who have been cracking up Fringe audiences since 2012 and on YouTube with over 100 million hits, are back with a new show, Craicling. The Sound of Phoenix by Shanna May Breen is a site-specific travelling soundscape of Phoenix Park on a vintage bus, finding big stories and tiny moments. There's courtroom musical from popstar twins Trevor and Elliot Century (AKA 'Trelliot'), Trial of the Century. I Am Dynamite is a creative symposium looking at artistic dissent and causing offence, curated by journalist, writer, and screenwriter Roisin Agnew. Confirmation is a poignant pop concert, a musical memoir about growing up in Roscommon from Fringe favourite, Xnthony.

Theatre in the Fringe festival includes Shame by Pom Boyd and Sean Millar, an entertaining and cathartic invitation to witness a sacred punk theatrical ritual through song. Sarah Gordon and Alice Malseed's new play Billy is about the weird ways we try to order our lives with the newest space-saving solution. A Holy Show by Janet Moran is a new comedy about the 1981 hijacking of an Aer Lingus plane by an ex-Trappist monk "with a bottle of water as his weapon, the Pope as his nemesis, and a burning desire to know the third secret of Fátima". Madhouse by Una McKevitt and PJ Gallagher is based on the latter's life and stars Katherine Lynch. Astronaut by Joe Wright is a spoken-word multimedia piece inspired by the Apollo House occupation in 2016. The Fattest Dancer at St. Bernadette's from The Breadline Collective is about a dance and drama school falling apart. Everything Can Be Dismantled by Joan Somers Donnelly and Donncha MacCoil is an interactive fantasy about the politics of housing. Owing To The Failure Of by Zoë Comyns is an audio experiment for podcast lovers.

Comedy includes Deirdre O’Kane’s A Line of O’Kane, a frank take on her frantic year, and Abie Philban Bowman’s Don’t Kiss Me. I’m Irish. We’re Probably Related is a show about parenthood.

Ten shows in this year’s festival are free, including a public art event Question Project by Mil M2 (Chile); Irish milliner Margaret O’Connor bringing her haute couture designing bespoke hats for the heads of some Dublin statues in Spitfire Bird; and the festival’s first ever virtual venue is Dublin Digital Radio with DDR X Fringe - intimate radio encounters which are appointment listening only.

Dublin Fringe Festival 2018, September 8th-23rd. fringefest.com

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times