Belfast Telegraph

New year brings a busy programme

By Grania McFadden

We're a week into the New Year, but still in the middle of the bleak midwinter, so not much to cheer about.

But then again, nothing a bowl of something warm and some lunchtime entertainment couldn't sort out.

So pull up a chair and take a look at the menu for this year's Out to Lunch festival — a feast for the eyes and the belly.

The festival kicked off earlier this week, but there's still plenty on offer at the buffet bar.

Why not try a serving of Greenstick Boy, Maggie Cronin's one-woman show about punk, Irish dancing, heroin addiction, Dagenham and what your mammy thinks about it all. It's all mixed up with some cracking incidental music, and directed by Sarah Tipple.

Greenstick Boy takes to the stage on Tuesday, January 12, with lunchtime and dinner performances.

If you prefer bonnets to buzz saws then Rebecca Vaughan's performance of Austen's Women may be your main course of choice.

Vaughan relies on Austen's words to conjure up the souls of Emma Woodhouse, Lizzy Bennet, Mrs Norris, and Miss Bates, who paint a compelling picture of life for a woman all those years ago. How much have things changed — and yet stayed the same?

Austen's Women runs on Thursday, January 14, with lunch and dinner performances.

Jane Austen's wit is sly and subtle, and you couldn't imagine her donning greasepaint and wearing a flower that squirts water. But Paul Currie's street clown character, Jeff Window, could well be sporting such a buttonhole when he returns to Belfast in his show, Sticky Bivouac, after a triumphant run at the Edinburgh Festival.

Mining the same seam of comic insanity as a young Steve Martin, Andy Kaufman, Spike Milligan and The Mighty Boosh, Sticky Bivouac is an absurdist, high energy performance inspired by music hall, Perry Como, ironing boards and The Deer Hunter (at least, that's what it says on the tin). You can see what the fuss is about — perhaps seeking a seat slightly removed from the stage — when Paul plays it for laughs on Saturday evening.

Elsewhere, looking ahead there are plenty of other performances across the land in the next few weeks and months.

The Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre in Armagh is celebrating it's tenth anniversary in 2010 and has a feast of music, theatre and dance waiting in the wings.

The line-up of drama brings The Miser by Moliere and The Caretaker by Harold Pinter to the stage, along with Morecambe, which celebrates the extraordinary life of Britain's best loved comic.

Meanwhile, keep an opening free on March 26 when a touring production of Give My Head Peace arrives in the Braid Centre in Ballymena.

Also, Brian Kennedy is celebrating 20 years in his musical career with a mini tour across the country, including a gig at the Strule Arts Centre in the heart of Omagh.

The Millennium Forum in Derry will be the venue for Singin' I'm No A Billy He's A Tim, a comedy about the sectarian divide which still exists in the west of Scotland. What could |be worse for a Celtic fan than being locked up in a police |cell on the day of an Old Firm match? For Tim, there is one thing worse — finding himself banged up with Billy, a fervent Rangers supporter.

And the Grand Opera House will welcome a stellar cast which includes Brenda Blethyn and Niall Buggy for Haunted by Edna O'Brien, while Calibre Productions return with the first ever professional stage adaptation of the BBC's hit comedy Porridge.

Finally on March 30, the annual City of Derry Drama Festival kicks off. Among the offerings are The Day They Shot John Lennon, by Nighthawk Productions, the Donny Osmond story and The Aul Fella.

Belfast Telegraph


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