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August 16, 2007



Is it me, or does it seem that, year after year, the NYC Fringe is dominated by campy kitschy pop-culture homages? Looking through the list of shows, I rarely come across anything that is much more than an exercise in hipster irony (I exclude "Urinetown", which I thought was a really interesting take on the Brecht/Weill style of cynical social realism). I know there must be some of that in Edinburgh too, but they also showcase some serious work, like David Harrower's "Blackbird" last year.

If people know of good serious work (and by "serious" I just mean something that is not a po-faced adaptation of a trashy movie or TV show. It doesn't have to be dour and grim like a Bergman film, just theatrically ambitious and narratively potent) going on at the Fringe, please let it be known.

Jason Zinoman

And how I envy David C that he saw bedbound! Should I imply from your item that you didnt like the production? And why do you think, that Walsh, who has a relatively high profile in the UK, has been so ignored here? I don't think his most famous play Disco Pigs has even had one NY production. Is Irish overload to blame? Incidentally, David, you really should look into buying tickets to Edinburgh next year. You would love it. For more evidence, check out my second round-up in the arts and leisure this weekend.

David Cote

Well, hello Jason Zinoman! I guess my post was unclear: I friggin loved bedbound (even though at the time I might have thought it was a bit oblique and shock-for-shock's-sake). Any production that has Brian F. O'Byrne shouting "Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck" has to be good. What was inexplicable was that Irish Rep did it in the first place. The edgiest that Hibernian joint gets is when Malachy McCourt shows up soused. I'm sure they caught hell from their subscribers. Good advice on Edinburgh. By the way, I'm checking out the Philly Live Art fest early next month. That also looks pretty hot.


Hi David - as the literary manager of the Irish Repertory Theatre and a playwright, I enjoy your blog quite a bit ... and yes, I'm a TONY subscriber and peruse your blog on that site as well. However, I do take gentle exception to your negative take on the Irish Rep. In the last year and a half, the theatre's edgy and often experimental New Works Reading Series has presented readings by some of the most talented, determined - and young - Irish and Irish-American playwrights working in theatre both here and abroad - Enda Walsh, Stella Feehily, Ursula Rami Sarma, Mark Doherty, Gary Duggan, Ann Marie Healy, Megan Mostyn-Brown, Lisa McGee, Eugene O'Brien, Elizabeth Kuti, Chris Lee, Christian O'Reilly and more. One of those readings, Stuart Carolan's Defender of the Faith which received the George Devine Award and was first produced at the Abbey's Peacock Theatre, made the journey from the New Works series to production at the Rep this past spring.

At any rate, the Irish Rep smartly straddles both daring new productions like Enda Walsh's Bedbound (which the playwright directed) and redefines classic works as well, like Ciarán O'Reilly's powerful adaptation of The Hairy Ape. I think "that Hibernian joint" does quite a bit for a small off-Broadway theatre.


And to acknowledge Ursula properly, I meant Ursula RANI Sarma (a wonderful Irish writer who was in residence at the O'Neill Playwrights Conference in 2006).

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