The top 10 theatre offerings at home and abroad in 2015

Jo Kerrigan rounds up the best theatre offerings at home and abroad for the months ahead

1. The Walworth Farce

Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Jan 10-Feb 8

The Gleesons are Ireland’s most significant acting dynasty since the Cusacks, and this production marks the first time Brendan, Brian and Domhnall have appeared together on stage. Enda Walsh’s madcap tale from 2006 explores familiar themes from the Irish playwright, as three people in a room create their own reality through their use of language.

2. Breaking Dad, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly

Cork Opera House, Feb 10-14

A Cork debut for this show, with Rory Nolan reprising the role of Ireland’s legendary socialite and seducer, The Rossmeister. The year is 2022, the country is experiencing an unexpected economic boom. The country’s debts have been repaid in full, the people are once more selling houses to each other for five times what they’re worth and Bertie Ahern is set to become taoiseach again at the age of 71. But there is always the unforeseen waiting round the corner…

3. The Pillowman,

Everyman Theatre, Cork, March 16-21

Irish premiere of a Martin McDonagh’s play that has already won two Tony Awards, Olivier Award for Best Play, and New York Drama Critics Award. Presented by Decadent Theatre Company, it’s a viciously funny and savage tale in which McDonagh creates a fiction writer living in a police state who is interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a number of bizarre child murders. While provoking laughter by its gift for language, this comedy is about as dark as they get.

4. Irish Shakespeare Project

Druid, spring

This adaptation of three of Shakespeare’s plays by Mark O’Rowe (Intermission, Our Few and Evil Days, etc) is a co-commission between the Galway-based company and the Lincoln Center Festival in New York. The plays are also an interesting departure for Druid as they celebrate their 40th year.

5. Shadow of a Gunman

Abbey Theatre, Dublin, June 12-Aug 1

The first of O’Casey’s Dublin plays, Shadow of a Gunman is set during the War of Independence, when civilians are dragged into a vicious guerrilla war of ambushes, raids and reprisals. A young man, mistaken by his tenement neighbours for an IRA gunman in hiding, is at first thrilled. Only later does his fantasy start to feel dangerously real. First performed in 1923 with Arthur Shields in the leading role, Shadow has never lost its immediacy nor its historical relevance. Wayne Jordan (The Plough and the Stars, Twelfth Night) directs this new co-production between the Abbey Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

6. The Bodyguard

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, July 23-Aug 1

Based on the huge hit film, this West End success is likely to be a sell-out in Dublin too. You know the story: former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each naturally expects to be completely in charge – what they don’t expect, of course, is to fall in love. And thereby hangs a thrilling tale. Producers Michael Harrison and David Ian have secured three-times Brit nominee and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke for the leading role of Rachel, an addition which can only add to its success in Dublin.

7. Death of a Salesman

Stratford on Avon, March 26–May 2

You might expect wall to wall Shakespeare in Stratford on Avon but the summer 2015 season opens in fact with Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller’s 1949 Pulitzer prize-winning play about failed dreams and thwarted ambition. Presented to celebrate the centenary of Miller’s birth, the Royal Theatre production boasts none other than Antony Sher in the leading role, directed by RSC’s artistic director, Gregory Doran.

8. The Twits, adapted by Enda Walsh

Royal Court, London, Apr 14-May 31

Our own Enda Walsh has based his newest play on Roald Dahl’s darkly comic The Twits, and London’s Royal Court will premiere his adaptation, directed by John Tiffany, in April. First published in 1980, The Twits (inspired by Dahl’s deep mistrust of beards), centres on a couple who are horrible to each other and even nastier to everyone else. Playing endless practical jokes, they hold a family of monkeys hostage and force them to stand on their heads constantly. It’s the most revolutionary of all Dahl’s work, ostensibly written for children and yet appealing strongly to adults as well. From Enda Walsh we expect strange twists to The Twits.

9. The Present,

Sydney Theatre, Aug 4-Sept 19

If you happen to find yourself in Sydney during late summer, grab the chance to see double Oscar winner Cate Blanchett live in the world premiere of Chekhov’s The Present, at the Sydney Theatre. Adapted by Andrew Upton and directed by Irishman John Crowley, it’s a new take on Chekhov’s first work, unpublished until almost two decades after his death.

10. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Minack Theatre, Penzance, Aug 10-14

CS Lewis’s magical tale of another world behind the bedroom cupboard has enchanted generations of children. Adaptations aplenty for cinema and TV, but an experience like no other would be to see a live production in the amazing clifftop amphitheatre of Minack with the skies and ocean vying for your attention (not to mention the occasional passing superliner). If you’re holidaying in west Cornwall this summer, finish the cream teas early, head past Mousehole (pronounced Mowzel as of course you all knew) for Porthcurno and the Minack, and let Next Stage Theatre Co take you to Narnia.


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