In a Word . . . Review

Frank Pig had a cast of just two, David Gorry and Sean Rocks, the latter playing up to 14 different roles. Similarly with Riverdance. He didn’t speak to me for a long time afterwards. Attending so many productions can take its toll. And there was Frank Pig Says Hello, an adaptation by Pat McCabe of his novel The Butcher Boy. Most times. True wit is nature to advantage dressed. I refer to Alexander Pope. I wrote accordingly in the review. It is full of favourites. “A perfect judge will read each work of wit/With the same spirit that its author writ,” said one of my favourite Popes. “A little learning is a dang’rous thing. “Be not the first by whom the new are tried. He spat: “… For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Which brings me to the experience of being a theatre critic. Or yet the last to lay the old aside. As I was with the Irish Press for five years until 1995. The first night of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa. Keeping awake was greatly assisted by composing the review there and then as the standard became clear. “To err is human, to forgive divine. We met on the opening night and he was very pleased with the by then published interview. Very, very foolish. I interviewed him for the paper prior to a staging of his adaptation of well known play. Wonderful. His adaptation was a bit of a shambles, not helped by a well-known singer who couldn’t act and a well known actor who couldn’t sing. You learned to be honest without being savage. that was a shit review”, got up out of his seat and changed carriages at the next station. What oft was thought but ne’re so well expressed. A few weeks later I saw him on a train and went up to say hello. That is from his 1709 Essay on Criticism. Not least as about 80 per cent was dross. And there was the angry playwright. There were stand-out moments. Review from the Latin re- + videre, to see again inaword@irishtimes.com The primary duty was to the reader who might be about to waste his/her money, but this was tempered by a realisation that at any time the vast majority of actors in Dublin were out of work.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer features Skellig Michael

No better advice could be put the way of the legions currently hyperventilating before terminals throughout the world. Within minutes, it had accumulated half a million views on YouTube and overrun all social media platforms. The promo was premiered at the Stars Wars Celebration convention in Orlando and released almost immediately online. A voice then asks us to “Breathe… just breath”. Well, it looks as if the people at Star Wars got their money’s worth from Skellig Michael. Is that the back of Princess Leia’s head? We begin with Daisy Ridley, back as intergalactic heroine Rey, slapping her hand on what we take to be a little bit of the UNESCO world heritage site. It will be analysed furiously before the film’s release at Christmas. The late Carrie Fisher, who plays that iconic character, makes her last appearance in the new film. The island off the coast of Kerry (not yet renamed Star Wars Island) is all over the first teaser trailer for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Then there is some stuff in a space ship and a shot of what might be Darth Vader’s crushed facemask. This is my favorite shot in the trailer for #TheLastJedi pic.twitter.com/pvSVtv5FWw— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) April 14, 2017 A new photo of Rey next to the Millenium Falcon in #TheLastJedi #SWCO pic.twitter.com/rrQsAY43OK— JoBlo.com (@joblocom) April 14, 2017 Most attention will be paid to gnomic utterances by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). In Ireland, much coverage has focused on supposed damage to Skellig Michael during the filming. As recently as this week, a year and a half after shooting ended, experts were required to confirm that a rock fall was not connected to the making of the Star Wars movie. Parts of the new film were shot in other Irish locations such as Malin Head in Donegal and Ceann Sibeal in Kerry. The next episode will be expected to come close to that mighty total. This is not quite true. I believe some sort of gust took it away.” The task is to provide just enough hints of excitement and beauty to come. The Star Wars Island shots certainly deliver the latter. Adam Brody, as sulky villain Kylo Ren, waves a light sabre in an unfriendly manner. Whole new tourism industries have been kicked up as a result. “It is time for the Jedi to end.” Modern cinema marketing is obsessed with concealment …

Swan Lake makes its theatrical return at Clonmel Junction Festival

The Clonmel Junction Festival has announced the first acts for the July arts celebration. On the roster there are Loah, Peter Broderick, Loah, Rosie Carney, Jesca Hoop, Brigid Mae Power and Marc O’Reilly. See junctionfestival.com for details. The show once best production and best costume design at this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, and features a score by Slow Moving Clouds. The Cave concert series will see three nights of music in Mitchelstown Cave. Swan Lake/Loch na hEala, created by Michael Keegan-Dolan, will perform for four nights. Tickets are now on sale for these early dates.

George Hook cites “truth and integrity” but revels in know-nothing pride

These assertions prompt Hook to characterise the man as “an education snob”. Commenting on Sergio Garcia’s victory in the US Masters, Harrington doesn’t gloss over their bitter rivalry. Because of the way I did my sentence, I’m the person I am now,” he says. The irony is that he can also listen and learn. For all that Hook talks passionately about his belief in “truth and integrity”, he frequently seems to revel in defiant, know-nothing pride. But he is unapologetic in his defence of the oft-maligned prison education programmes that helped set him on a more productive path, including writing a memoir of his time in jail. “What would you prefer, if I came back and reoffended? If the prospect of listening to a left-wing politician express support for transport strikes sets alarm bells ringing, Matt Cooper has hit on a novel solution. Jacobson, unsurprisingly enough, takes a dim view of Trump, particularly his election stump statement that he loved “the poorly educated”. The Brexit debate, he says, was notable for its bitterness. Radio Moment of the Week: No more Mr Nice Guy Golfer Pádraig Harrington has a reputation as one of the sport’s nice guys but he shows his spiky side on Game On (2FM, weekdays). In Jacobson’s mind, this was not an assertion of compassion for those lacking opportunity, but something darker. But overall, the item is informative and stimulating, helped by Hook’s playful relationship with his guest. Still, Harrington concedes he was, er, “delighted with the emotion” when Garcia won. But as Jacobson explains how words have enabled him to discover things, not least common ground with those of different backgrounds, he sounds almost wistful, as though he knows such ideas are dangerously unfashionable these days. Texas George Hook, for one, seems to regard “education” as a term of abuse when he talks to reporter Richard Chambers on High Noon (Newstalk, weekdays). It’s notable, however, that Cullen doesn’t mention how many Muslims live in Ireland. But when he characterises Amanda as saying “you should only be allowed to vote if you’re educated”, Hook misrepresents what has actually been said. A valuable lesson all round. “I think words are useful things to have.” Cunningham is candid about his culpability for what happened to him – a ‘self-centred scumbag’ is one of the milder epithets he uses about himself  It’s a bracing interview, with Cooper clearly enjoying his guest’s prickly wit. In …

Why are so many current art exhibitions fascinated by the occult?

Co-curator Rachael Thomas denies the exhibition has anything to do with a current zeitgeist, instead saying that the idea grew out of the Imma exhibition What We Call Love (September 2015 / February 2016), and is thoroughly grounded in academic research. (Michael Best has written about this in detail on atlasobscura.com.) Declassified documents also show that spoon-bender Uri Geller worked with the CIA in the 1970s, as part of the “Stargate” programme. The artists, which included Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Gabriele Münter and Paul Klee, made the jump from representation to abstraction, and I could have sat for hours coming to see, through their paintings, something deeper than myself. Susan MacWilliam’s Modern Experiments (just concluded at Highlanes) delved into paranormal phenomena. But the connections between anxiety and the spiritual and occult aren’t just in art. Look at the parallel histories of art and politics, and you start to see interesting connections Subtitled Portals, Visions, Spirits & Mystics, Imma’s exhibition features a cast of artists including Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint, Bruce Nauman, Sigmar Polke, Patrick Pye and Susan Hiller. It’s easy to understand how someone might go from losing a loved one to imagining, or believing, that they are still in communion with them; but anxiety is reaching for the paranormal in other ways. When the events themselves seem senseless, we have to reach further in our thinking. On a recent trip to Munich I was transported by the collection of works by the Blue Rider group at the Lenbachhaus. At MoMA in New York, Tony Oursler’s Imponderable explores the occult in a sprawling show that takes in Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini and a cast of mediums, ghosts and spirits (it ends on April 16th). When the events themselves seem senseless, we have to reach further in our thinking The Cottingley Fairies case appeared in 1917, during the thick of the first World War. Doyle, most famous for his most rational of detectives, had long been fascinated by seances and spiritualism, but it was his experience of the carnage of the war that led him to see spiritualism as a solace from God. But recently, a spate of shows points to a renewed interest in a vein of art that never actually went away. Jesse Jones’ Tremble Tremble, opening at the Venice Biennale in May, uses imagery from the tarot as a key set of emblems; while Imma has just …

Kendrick Lamar serves up heartstopping moments with U2 and Rihanna on Damn.

Feel is a stunning, defiant track with some of the best production on the album thanks to Sounwave. This is a track built on epic foundations, and it’s easy to imagine it scaled up with choirs and orchestras. / Is it unconditional when the ‘Rari don’t start? Either way, if you fancy disappearing down the rabbit hole, check out this article on Fact Magazine. As it is, there is a raw, lonely beauty to the song with vocals that haunt the choruses. It’s a track fired on frustration, where Thundercat’s bass line sounds like it’s trying to calm Lamar down from burning all the bridges he’s been building. A don’t be surprised if in a few days time, we’re right back here with another dozen or so tracks of supreme, sublime musical ability to process. / Or you’re loyal to yourself in advance?” There’s an artistry on Damn. There is the woozy pops, stops and upbeats of Lust. And then there is the streetfighting swagger of single hammered piano notes on Humble. There is Love, which runs a little too sweetly for my tooth. Lamar allows the U2 frontman to sustain his decades-long US obsession by singing about a country in which “You close your eyes to look around” It opens in typical Kendrick territory of edgy, high-octane rapping above engine revs and siren wails, before a huge musical swerve, so we can “talk about gun control”, allows Bono to start crooning Harlem-lounge style over a jazz bluesy number. There is a nagging feeling that the album loses a little momentum towards the end, but maybe that’ll erode with repeated listens. Lamar allows the U2 frontman to sustain his decades-long US obsession by singing about a country in which “You close your eyes to look around” – and little tells us more about the state of that nation now than the music on this record.  For every spitting, swaggering lyric there’s a balancing moment of levity and consideration. Element, which upfront seems a backhanded slapdown to other pretenders, is more an honest testament to tenacity and the value of working hard at your art. Will more rise on Sunday? As if all of this isn’t enough, there is a glorious, detailed conspiracy that Lamar might be about to drop another album on Easter Sunday. No tyre screech runs too harshly. Kanye Waste has the sort of Yeezus complex that would …

I could have met Samuel Beckett

If this suits you, no need to reply. Sincerely, Samuel Beckett. I walked back to the university. I hope you don’t mind my writing to you out of the blue. A few days later, back home in Ireland, I received another note in the same spidery handwriting. I idled in the bookshop daily and one afternoon, as I sat on a narrow stairs reading another book I couldn’t buy, Gretchen made her way past me to the small kitchenette on the next floor. Do you accept the three rules?” I nodded my agreement and we shook hands. Try me again when you are next in Paris. I gave Malone’s accommodation as my return address and set off with my map of Paris. “Not at all,” Hervé said. Dear Mr Beckett, I am a student of English in UCG and I am in Paris for a few weeks. At least I wrote! Jacques. Why don’t you meet him?” “You’re joking?” I countered. “So you want to meet Samuel Beckett?” “Yes,” I said. I arrived into Paris to meet up with my best friend, Cormac Malone. Photograph: Lesley Wingfield “Why is it only addressed to you?” Malone asked over my shoulder as I read and re-read the note. “Would you meet him at the Hôtel PLM and give him this?” I had penned another letter, introducing Malone, and making my excuses about a family crisis back in Dublin. It had all seemed perfect. When we returned to Paris there was a letter sellotaped to Malone’s door, addressed in spidery writing to me. The following day I wrote to Samuel Beckett. I stood in the small hallway and scanned the names on the letterboxes. My belief is if you say there are two of you, then he will not reply. Gretchen, from Holland, was studying English too and worked for a few hours a day on the till in this wonderful bookshop. He’s one of the organisers of a poetry festival in Montmartre. I’m going to catch a train to Le Havre in an hour’s time.” Behind me, my barely credible rucksack and re-strung guitar leant against the wall. “Ah, Beckett,” she said with a grin. “Try to sober up before you meet him,” he said as he was leaving for class. “I’m just very disappointed that you felt you had to get drunk just to tell me the truth.” Suddenly, and irreversibly, …

Dolores O’Riordan: `I got sick, had a meltdown – it was too much work that caused it’

If there is a successful Irish rock band as beleaguered as The Cranberries, then we have yet to make their acquaintance. Fame was extraordinary, really.” Outwardly, the band could do no wrong, but problems were brewing nonetheless. Indeed, not much of anything happened. “It would have been easier if we had had more experience with the actual music industry – we were very young and very naïve, sheltered. The initial road to victory was unsteady. Formed in 1989, within a year original vocalist Niall Quinn left, his position filled by slip-of-a-girl singer Dolores O’Riordan, who developed several of the band’s early demos (including Linger and Dreams) into songs that seemed good enough to send to UK-based record companies. Despite the sense of expectation, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? The level of achievement, she admits, came much too quickly. Before O’Riordan could do a dainty jig, The Cranberries were the most successful Irish band since U2. Such instincts proved correct – Island Records signed them, but complications quickly arose when the band fired their manager (and early producer of tracks for their debut album), Pearse Gilmore New management in the experienced shape of Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis followed, as did a new producer (the acclaimed Stephen Street), and by early 1993 the refurbished debut album arrived. It seems you could take the band out of provincial Limerick but never the other way around. Within a year, however, all was to change: in the US as support to (the then much better gamble) Suede, MTV put the videos for Linger and Dreams into, as they said back then, “heavy rotation”. Factor in a female singer who was so shy that she often faced the stage backdrop instead of the audience, and you had problems. The Limerick band arrived just over 25 years ago with a few delicate songs (some of which have stood the test of time – Linger and Dreams, in particular, continue to weave spells), but it took some years for the quartet to fully engage with their sudden, rapid rise to international success. Amid murmurs of varying states of bewilderment, not even sharp-witted music industry people knew what to do with a band that had some fine songs but little experience in the art of performing. didn’t set the world alight. Before O’Riordan could do a dainty jig, The Cranberries were the most successful Irish …

Silent Books: wordless picture-books for refugees

The exhibition is designed to draw attention to the key role that silent books can play in crossing cultural boundaries and promoting literacy. Eventually, the selection grew to more than 100 books, drawn from writers from more than 20 countries. From simple and linear tales like Waves to more complex stories like Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, they present stories that build on universal experiences, as well as metaphorical worlds that echo particular contemporary situations. Although the books have no text, they are rich in a visual language that allows the reader to place themselves within the picturebook. One full set of books was delivered to the library in Lampedusa, and a further set became part of a travelling exhibition, which arrived in Ireland earlier this month. You can browse the Silent Books collection at Ballyroan Library until April 18th; at Tallaght Library from April 19th-28th; at DLR Lexicon from May 2nd-29th; and Tralee LIbrary from June 2nd-18th. iBbY got involved by helping to select a variety of ‘silent books’ that could bridge cultural and linguistic boundaries through the universal power of imagery. The exhibition is designed to draw attention to the key role that silent books can play in crossing cultural boundaries and promoting literacy. How can a book speak when it has no words? Powerfully, through pictures alone. iBbY Ireland have organised a series of hands-on activities to enhance engagement with the books, from story-time to illustration and writing workshops with local librarians and picturebook makers including Children’s Laureate PJ Lynch, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Debbie Thomas and Tatyana Feeney. The exhibition originated in 2012 as a response to the current refugee crisis, when a local library in Lampedusa, an island in southern Italy that had become a haven for refugees travelling across the Mediterranean Sea, saw firsthand how wordless books opened up an opportunity for refugees to share worlds and experiences with each other.The books also provided a concrete route into the new language for refugees. This is the emphatic answer provided by Silent Books, an exhibition of wordless picture-books curated by iBbY, the international network working to bring books and children together, which is currently on tour throughout Ireland.

Talkin’ Squirrel Blues: Flann O’Brien meets Muddy Waters

Music was always going to be an important theme in the book. Combining a dash of Flann O’Brien with a splash of Muddy Waters, it is a hilarious surreal tale of anguished love, missed deadlines and clanging guitars. It’s a complex system of words, rhythms, rules, irrational preferences and pedantic hang-ups. It’s not an easy route, of course. Which one will be able to guide Moses to happiness? Just ask the priest who tried to discuss the high cost of living with several elderly women! Computer files can hold a grudge. Or will the past always rattle in his brain like a half-remembered song? Consider James Alley Blues by Rabbit Brown. Or inspire a blues song… Talkin’ Squirrel Blues is my first novel and is dedicated to godson Michael McGee. And now Flaherty has found a new lost soul to console. “I saw a squirrel walking into work today…” The Dublin launch of Talkin’ Squirrel Blues, my surreal comedy novel, took place in the Irish Writers Centre last week. And it can be prone to being wilfully misunderstood, no matter how carefully you try to express yourself. Perhaps his furry tail could extend all the way to a full-length novel. This somewhat ridiculous Irish version of a Delta bluesman could act as a croaky Greek chorus, commenting on the main action and generally making a racket in the background. And Freud argued that mistakes can reveal repressed aspects of our subconscious. Interfaces can be vindictive. Enter Fingers Flaherty. (You say one thing but mean your mother…) Sometimes mistakes can even be sources of inspiration. Technology rarely does what it’s supposed to do. I pictured an executive squirrel scurrying to work, flash suit neatly wrapped around him, leather briefcase jauntily swinging by his side. I set the story aside for a while, but I found it hard to forget that squirrel. And from that image would evolve Talkin’ Squirrel Blues, a comically surreal tale about a young marketing executive’s search for love in Dublin’s nightclubs. Because of recent technology advances, self-publishing has become a viable option for many authors. As I signed the books, I couldn’t help thinking: “This all started with a mistake.” James Joyce said that mistakes are the portals of discovery. By the time he gets to the end of song, Brown is lost in a septic tank of toxic emotion: “Well, sometimes I think you’re just too …

Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: Music for 18 Machines

This week’s column isn’t just about the sparkling jewel in Steve Reich’s crown that is Music for 18 Musicians, but about the experience of hearing it reimagined as Music for 18 Machines on the hallowed ground of St Patrick’s Cathedral during this year’s St Patrick’s weekend festivities in Dublin. A church of sound is one I’d very happily subscribe to. There was a touch of magic in its staging at St Patrick’s. Reich’s audacious exploration of musical pattern took on new meaning and reached new heights on the occasion. Who knew? The roar of a jet plane could have gone unnoticed during this one. In a cathedral built for an entirely different type of sound, it was an exhilarating and uplifting experience. Church visits are nearly always conducted in silence. On this holy ground once more, an unforgettable fire. It was a night when all the elements conspired to mesmerise. Given the gargantuan loft of the ceiling, quieter aspects of the piece assumed new power. Dreamy and hypnotic The music, in which high-register acoustic sound (the original ensemble comprises marimbas, xylophone, metalliphone, and women’s voices) evolve harmonically toward themselves, is dreamy and deeply hypnotic. Souls were cleansed and sins erased. All sorts of sub-plots were triggered by the soundwaves. Bones of both the living and the dead rattled. An hour flew by. The woodwind parts took on the consistency of waves. I don’t have the vocabulary to explain either the intricacies of the piece nor the reasons why I found Simon Cullen (Synth Eastwood) and his collaborators Neil O’Connor, Glenn Keating and Liam Gaffney’s interpretation of the piece so thrilling. There weren’t any constant hypnotic pulses to stimulate the brain in those days. Ancient and modern ritual collided. If the roof had lifted to reveal the Aurora Borealis in full glory, I would not have blinked. The voices were haunting and ghostly. It was immense. The sheer force of it made me imagine the floor was vibrating. I couldn’t help thinking of how slowly time passed in the silent churches I spent my youth. The all-knowing god we grew up with should have come clean about the kind of sub-bass a Funktion One sound system can generate. Had he done so I would have signed up for life.

The Cranberries are back for another bite of the berry

Both shows are sold out The more people are involved, the more phone calls there are, and by the time you get the story it’s not as accurate as it began. The 1990s was our time for that, I think – we were hungry and on fire. “Hopefully, after this tour we’ll write new material, but at the same token I genuinely don’t expect to be as successful as we once were. That was a huge leap from one life to another.” Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries: ‘It would have been easier if we had had more experience with the actual music industry – we were very young and very naïve, sheltered.’ Photograph: Dylan Martinez / Reuters For O’Riordan, the leap eventually became too wide to complete. “Unfortunately for us, a lot of the time it’s a case of a lack of communication, and outside forces getting involved, telling one person one thing and another person something else. Now, we’re older, we have kids, and I know we’ll never get those earlier moments back again. Most importantly, when we come back from wherever it was we were there’s a demand for us. Not that I want them.” Something Else is released April 28th through BMG. For most of our lives – I’m speaking for myself, obviously, but I’m sure the rest will agree – The Cranberries has been such a defining thing. Dolores and I now talk practically every other day, and our friendship is probably healthier than it has been for a long time.” “We’ve had our ups and downs over the years, like many bands,” says Hogan casually. Interestingly, in April 2015 the pair signed a publishing partnership with Warner/Chappell Music UK Publishing. The Cranberries play Waterfront Hall, Belfast, May 17th, and Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin, May 18th. We get on with it, and it’s very much like a brother and sister relationship. Less than three months later, the High Court case was struck out. “When Dolores and I get to sit down at a table, across from each other, and talk things through, it’s like the issues never happened. “I got sick, had a meltdown – it was too much work that caused it.” We all know that every time we leave The Cranberries to do something else that the band itself is still there in the background The on-hiatus approach the band has …