Dublin Theatre Festival returns for 18 days and nights of exceptional Irish and international work from September 26 until October 13 taking place across the Irish capital.
The packed programme features everything from world premieres of new work to reimagined classic texts, and from inspiring international projects to an expanded season of theatre for children. According to organisers, the works of this year’s festival deal with many contemporary topics but ‘also reach beyond those to a poetic enquiry about the times we live in.”
In terms of homegrown shows, one highlight is a new take on JM Synge’s controversial masterpiece The Playboy of the Western World in the Gaiety (from Sep 24). The classic play tells the story of Christy Mahon, a young man who runs away from his farm, claiming he killed his father.
The Abbey Theatre will present the world premiere of a new work by Dermot Bolger. Titled Last Orders at the Dockside, it centres around a reunion of dockers. Over the course of an evening, hidden tensions expose fault lines in their complex relationships (from Sep 26). Also at the venue from Oct 9 is Redemption Falls, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Joseph O’Connor.
Hecuba, by Marina Carr, will have its Irish premiere in the Projects Arts Centre (from Sep 25). The play is a passionate re-imaging of the aftermath of the Trojan War and the events surrounding its iconic characters.
The Alternative by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney (being performed at the Pavilion Theatre and Draiocht over the festival) asks: what if Ireland was still part of the UK? Based in 2019, it is the eve of the Referendum and British Prime Minister Ursula Lysaght is returning to her hometown of Dublin to convince voters to remain.
Coming to the Gate from Oct 2 is the world premiere of The Beacon, a new play from Nancy Harris. Beiv, a celebrated artist, has moved from suburban Dublin to her holiday cottage on an island off the coast of West Cork. But a dark shadow from the past hangs over her. When her estranged son and his new young wife arrive to stay, she is faced with some difficult questions.
Also at the Gate is the world premiere of Beckett’s Room (from Sep 24). A play without performers, it tells the story of the apartment in Paris where Samuel Beckett lived with his partner Suzanne during WWII.
Following his acclaimed re-imagining of the famous ballet, Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, Michael Keegan Dolan and Teaċ Daṁsa return with the world premiere of a new mythic yet timely production – Mám. A meeting place between soloist and ensemble, classical and traditional, the local and universal – it brings together concertina player Cormac Begley, the European classical contemporary collective Stargaze and 12 international dancers at O’Reilly Theatre (from Sep 25).
Actor, musician and now writer Ray Scannell will debut The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia at the Project Arts Centre (from Sep 26). A new apocalyptic black comedy with live music and original songs, the show lovingly exposes a generation of adult children struggling to fit into the nuclear family ideal and trying to make art in the face of rental crises and global catastrophe.
There’s also a whole host of noteworthy shows coming from overseas. After someone threw a burger at them and shouted a transphobic slur, performance artist Travis Alabanza became obsessed with the food. Carving out a place for themselves as one of the UK’s most prominent trans voices, Alabanza presents a performance in Burgerz (from Oct 9) at Smock Alley that festival organisers say is timely, unsettling and powerful.
Also from the UK is the multi-award-winning How to Win Against History. Coming to the Civic from Sep 25, it is a frothy glossy costume drama about the 5th Marquis of Anglesey who burned brightly, briefly and transvestitely at the end of the 19th Century before he died at 29 and his family burned every record of him
Following sell out runs at Edinburgh Festival Fringe and London’s National Theatre, Us/Them comes to the Pavilion Theatre from Oct 8. Organisers say the show is a thrilling piece of theatre which retells, from the perspective of a child, three days when 1,200 people were held hostage by terrorists in Beslan, Russia.
The Australian Nicola Gunn returns to Dublin Theatre Festival with a simple premise – what do you do if you see someone throw stones at a duck. Shifting from anecdotes to comedy to the unexpectedly profound she dissects the excruciating realms of human behaviour and navigates the moral and ethical complexities of intervention in Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster (from Sep 26 at the Samuel Beckett Theatre).
Portuguese show Sopro tells the story of a prompter at a theatre. After 40 years, she reluctantly steps out of the shadows and shares stories from her decades of working. The play comes to the O’Reilly Theatre from Oct 11.
Booking for festival shows can be done online at dublintheatrefestival.ie, over the phone at +353 1 677 8899 and in person at the DTF box office. The latter is located at Festival House on 12 East Essex Street East, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.