Colette Sheridan's arts highlights of 2016

Our regular arts/ents writers select their personal highlights of the year

My theatre highlights:

A play dealing with the abuse of children incarcerated in Catholic residential institutions doesn’t sound like palatable viewing but Broken-talkers’ The Blue Boy, staged at the Everyman, found a way of telling Ireland’s shameful horror story in a way that was innovative. It combined choreography with live music, film footage, recorded testimonies and performances by five actors.

On a lighter note, Ger Fitzgibbon’s play, The Bed, at the Unitarian Church on Cork’s Princes Street, was an afternoon delight during the Cork Midsummer Festival. Paula McGlinchey played William Shakespeare’s widow, Anne Hathaway who, to her horror, discovers she has been bequeathed the Bard’s ‘second best bed’, with the bulk of his estate going to his eldest daughter.

Corcadorca’s Sacrifice at Easter, while not up there with the best of their productions, was visually stunning, staged at Elizabeth Fort on Cork’s Barrack Street.

Best Book:

There is no end to writer, Kevin Barry’s inventiveness. In Beatlebone, he has the audacity to get into John Lennon’s head who arrives incognito into the west of Ireland, planning to spend three days alone on his island in Clew Bay. In this darkly comic interrogative novel, Barry goes to town on artistic constipation and Lennon’s need to “scream his f***ing lungs out.”

Best TV:

Bob Geldof’s two part documentary, Fanatic Heart, on RTÉ, was about WB Yeats’ imagining a new, proud and strong Ireland. Geldof, a fan of Yeats since his school days, wasn’t overly reverential but was hugely appreciative of this passionate poet who gave Ireland a vision for its future — without lifting a gun.

Best Live Event:

ProdiJIG: The Revolution at Cork Opera House choreographed and created by Alan Kenefick, was a spectacular dance show that broke away from the confines of traditional Irish dancing, offering, instead, a medley of edgy Irish dancing, hip-hop and jazz.

Best Radio:

Callan’s Kicks on RTE Radio 1 is satire at its best; cutting, humorous and delightfully risqué. How does Marian Finucane put up with Callan’s portrayal of her, coughing and spluttering from cigarettes and repeating ad nauseam her stock of phraseology? It’s devastatingly astute.

Best Film:

The Cork-made comedy, The Young Offenders, is a great local success story. This low-budget movie, directed by Peter Foott, was inspired by the massive cocaine seizure off the coast of Cork in 2007. Two young fellows take a road trip on bikes to try and get their greedy paws on a bale of cocaine left behind from the haul. I loved the bicycle chase scene in the English Market.

Best Interviewee:

The poet, Thomas McCarthy, whose latest collection is entitled Pandemonium, proved to be a modest yet erudite and wise interviewee. He takes his poetry seriously but never at the cost of cordiality. There is no rampaging ego in evidence — just a quiet confidence.

Lowlight:

The appalling level of discourse, trail-blazed by Donald Trump, and indulged in by Katie Hopkins. Just why was she a guest on the Late Late Show? She has nothing interesting to say, and a very grimy, vicious way of saying it.

Looking Ahead:

I’m looking forward to Kevin Barry’s play, Autumn Royal, at the Everyman. It’s his first play and it will be interesting to see if his writing transfers to the stage. Also looking forward to Corcadorca’s production of The Same by Enda Walsh at the Old Cork City Gaol. The writer, Marina Warner, best known for her work on feminism and mythology, will be a guest author at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July. It would be interesting to hear her take on the state of feminism today.

I’m looking forward to Kevin Barry’s play, Autumn Royal, at the Everyman. It’s his first play and it will be interesting to see if his writing transfers to the stage. Also looking forward to Corcadorca’s production of The Same by Enda Walsh at the Old Cork City Gaol. The writer, Marina Warner, best known for her work on feminism and mythology, will be a guest author at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July. It would be interesting to hear her take on the state of feminism today.

READ MORE: Ed Power’s arts highlights of 2016


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