Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Festival faithful get their just desserts

Stand-up: Comedienne Lucy Porter

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? Do you rejoice in what’s still to come, or look back with longing at what’s already been?

Out to Lunch caters for both tastes, and while we pause at the halfway mark of this year’s festival, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on what we’ve enjoyed, while organisers prepare to replenish our glasses for the next festival fortnight.

While many people have been driven off the streets by those with other sorts of culture on their minds, OTL audiences are made sterner stuff. And nothing’s been keeping them from the city’s Cathedral Quarter, where the show goes on regardless.

And director Sean Kelly is, understandably, delighted. “We're thrilled that Belfast’s appetite for Out to Lunch is as great as ever, in spite of the difficult climate in the city of late.

“People are still packing out the Black Box, and — perhaps even more importantly — artists haven’t been put off coming to Belfast, in spite of the news headlines. We’re grateful that they’ve helped us play a part in keeping Belfast the kind of city people want to visit,” he said.

And they do. The evidence is in the audience numbers, with many of this year’s shows sold out.

Maria Doyle Kennedy, Geno Washington, Zoe Conway, The Strypes, Kieran Goss, Joe Lindsay, Karine Polwart, Sean Hughes, Hollie Cook, Scroobius Pip, Arlo Guthrie, Lucy Porter, Jim Jones Revue, John Shuttleworth and Daughter have all — or will in the coming weeks — attracted capacity crowds.

Sean believes that OTL’s success lies both in its recession-beating prices (lunch and a show for under a tenner can’t be beaten) and its place in the calendar.

In the mix for the next fortnight are Arlo Guthrie, Lucy Porter, Kelly Joe Phelps, The Once, Daughter, and a John Shuttleworth swizzle stick. Make sure you leave the car at home!

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