The western front

Galway Arts Festival is a wild fortnight of theatre, music and comedy, says Carl Dixon

THE Galway Arts Festival — showcasing theatre, music, comedy and visual art events — opens next Tuesday and runs until July 24.

A coup this year is the revival of Enda Walsh’s one-man show, Misterman, which premiered in Cork in 1999, and has not been performed since. This new production reunites writer-and-director Walsh with actor Cillian Murphy, who starred in Walsh’s breakthrough play, Disco Pigs. Both Misterman and Disco Pigs were originally produced by Cork company Corcadorca, who bring their version of Franz Xaver Kroetz’s Request Programme, directed by Pat Kiernan and starring Eileen Walsh, to the festival.

Propeller present two new productions of William Shakespeare plays at Galway. The Comedy of Errors is directed by Edward Hall and follows two sets of twins, who are separated at birth and meet 25 years later. Hall will also direct Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s great villains, who employs his cruel wit and murderous instincts to seize the throne of England.

Mike Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love, presented by Paines Plough and Drum Theatre, is an Irish premiere directed by James Grieve. It tells the story of a couple of ‘baby boomers’ over 40 years from June 25, 1967, the night the Beatles performed All You Need Is Love in the first live global television event.

Fishamble present Pat Kinevane’s play Silent, directed by Jim Culleton. Silent is the story of a homeless man, McGoldrig, who finds redemption through his interest in the silent movie star Rudolph Valentino.

ThisSideUp present their new show, Controlled Falling Project, over four evenings. The acrobatic troupe blend sophisticated circus skills with scientific experiment in a high-octane spectacle.

Galway has never been short on spectacle. Local company Macnas present a new show, This Fierce Beauty, directed by Noeline Kavanagh, which will wind its way from Spanish Arch to the Fisheries Field, for one night only, on July 17. The visiting French troupe Les Philebulistes present Arcane over two evenings at Eyre Square, while Erth present Dinosaur Petting Zoo over three evenings at Galway Shopping Centre. All free.

Featherhead Productions, in association with Galway Arts Centre, present the world premiere of The Devil’s Spine Band, a fusion of theatre, music and dance inspired by Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour to the mining town of Leadville, Colorado in 1881. The performers include the Japanese butch dancers Gyohei Zaitsu and Maki Watanabe, the Irish actress Olwen Fouere, and the musicians Ed Deane, Noel Bridgeman and Trevor Knight. Set design is by visual artist Alice Maher.

This year’s visual art programme includes The Road, an exhibition of paintings by Hughie O’Donoghue. It includes two new works, the monumental Painting Caserta Red, and Road, a painting in 60 parts, as well as an earlier work, Tomb of the Diver. This new exhibition premieres at the Absolut Festival Gallery before travelling to Prague, where it will run at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art for three months.

Artist Aideen Barry presents Possession, a commissioned work, at the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUI Galway, while the Galway Arts Centre hosts We Are Playing At Being Explorers, an exhibition of work by Stephen Brandes, Andrew Dodds and Sonia Shiel that investigates the blurred line between fact and fiction.

Galway City Museum hosts the exhibition Lamb in Connemara, which celebrates the artist Charles Lamb’s relationship with the west of Ireland, which he painted at the invitation of the poet Pádraic Ó Conaire. At the Kenny Gallery, Irish and European artists explore the human body in the exhibition Nude: Blatant Exhibitionism, while Jay Murphy takes the 1925 Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric Scheme as the inspiration for his exhibition Hydro at the Norman Villa Gallery, Salthill.

The literary strand of the festival includes talks by Colm Toibin, Emma Donoghue, Roddy Doyle and Willy Vlautin. Toibin is the author of The Master, which won the IMPAC Literary Award in 2006, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Prize. He will read at the Hotel Meyrick on July 23. Donoghue, an Irish writer in Canada, hit big with her fourth novel, Room, which won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the 2011 Commonwealth Prize for Fiction and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She’s at the Meyrick on July 20. Doyle, the author of The Van, The Snapper and The Commitments, won the Man Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993. Doyle shares the bill at the Meyrick on July 19 with Vlautin, whose third novel, Lean on Pete, won the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction in 2010. Vlautin also leads the country rock outfit, Richmond Fontaine, who release their 10th album, The High Country, in September.

Richmond Fontaine will perform an acoustic set at Roisin Dubh on July 19, a highlight of a programme that includes Blondie, De La Soul, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Afrocubism, Iris Dement and folk legends De Danaan ( led by Alec Finn). Also performing are the Glasgow outfit The Vaselines, who released one album, Dum Dum, before splitting in 1989. Nirvana covered three of their songs, convincing them to reform to record a second album, Sex with an X.

Comedians performing include David O’Doherty, Roisin Canaty and Jarlath O’Regan, Gerry Mallon’s Laughter Loft, Abandoman and Simon Munnery, Stephen Frost’s Improv All Stars in Whose Line Is It Anyway? and the London Snorkelling Team.

Galway festival highlights

- Cillian Murphy in Misterman, July 7-24, Blackbox Theatre

- Propeller: The Comedy of Errors, July 19, 21, 22 and 23, Town Hall Theatre

- Propeller: Richard III, July 20, 22 and 23, Town Hall Theatre

- Paines Plough and Drum Theatre: Love, Love, Love, July 12-16, Town Hall Theatre

- Corcadorca: Request Programme, July 11-23, City Centre (meet at the Western Hotel, Prospect Hill)

- Macnas: This Fierce Beauty, July 17, Spanish Arch to the Fisheries Field

- De La Soul and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, July 23, Festival Big Top

- Afrocubism, July 18, Festival Big Top

- Blondie, July 20, Festival Big Top

- Hughie O’Donoghue: The Road, July 11-24, Absolut Festival Gallery, Galway Shopping Centre

Picture: Members of Macnas take part in dress rehearsals for their parade "This Fierce Beauty”. Picture Ray Ryan

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