on stage

Oliver Cromwell, a confession box and sex work - Dublin Fringe Festival unveils its 2022 programme

This year sees topics including climate change and the mother and baby homes being explored through art, music, theatre and performance.

IT’S TIME TO party. That’s the message from this year’s Dublin Fringe Festival, which is a smorgasbord of energetic events to shake us into the autumn.

The festival, which runs from 10 – 25 September, will see 430 artists putting on a variety of shows across 27 different venues in the city. The organisers promise the festival will cover the themes of “rest, rage, revelry” and celebrate “the glorious, the curious and the improbable”.

Festival director Ruth McGowan told The Journal: “We are really proud of all the things we made in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic, but it’s really exciting to be back in the thick of the festival buzz.” In particular, she is looking forward to “that real sense of adventure and togetherness” that a festival like the Fringe brings. 

When they read the entries to the open call for submissions that the festival sent out, McGowan said the staff were struck by “how singular a lot of the ideas were, how unique they were”. Could it be that people used the pandemic times – tough as they were – to let ideas ferment? “I think that there’s definitely a sense of the people having been developing these over years – passion projects – and people have that spirit of ‘we’re going to go for it – if not now, when?’,” she said. 

KQHcuxyE Ruth McGowan Dublin Fringe Festival Dublin Fringe Festival

The Fringe is all about discovery – none of the performances have been on stage before, and half of the performers are appearing at the festival for the first time.

During the pandemic, the festival was lucky that its dates “fell in that real golden period of time where we were able to gather together in shared spaces even though we had limited audiences”, said McGowan. It was important to them to stay true to the spirit of festival making, and of shared experiences between artists and audience members. 

With that in mind, they made sure to support the community during “a really challenging and upsetting couple of years for artists and arts workers”, said McGowan. 

These year sees some common themes emerging from the festival, like climate change and the future of the city. Another is cabaret: “people are definitely craving that cathartic party”, says McGowan, with Thisispopbaby’s Wake and the Hive City Legacy cabaret being two of the highlights there. 

hoRQ6xYo Julie Jay's 'Oops! This is Toxic' Dublin Fringe Festival Dublin Fringe Festival

There are also some hybrid performances, like musician Talos and writer Emmet Kirwan teaming up for a show, Accents.

Another unusual show, Without Sin, sees audience members enter a private booth for a sort of ‘confession box’ experience. 

Plus it has a standup comedy strand that takes in relative newcomers like Anna Clifford and Emily Ashmore, and familiar online faces like Killian Sundermann and Michael Fry.

If you haven’t attended the festival before, McGowan says she’d love newcomers “to feel really welcomed and feel an open invitation to come to the festival”. 

“The Fringe is for everyone,” said McGowan. 

Dublin Fringe Festival highlights.

Visit the website for all the shows and details of tickets and timings.

PnyJoF7o Thisispopbaby Dublin Fringe Festival Dublin Fringe Festival

Thisispopbaby – Wake

The new show from the makers of international smash-hit RIOT is described as a “howling, raucous, soul stirring celebration of community, regeneration, and the magic of collective catharsis”. Expect glittery music, theatre, cabaret, beats, circus and a wild night indeed.

Hot Brown Honey

Australian group Hot Brown Honey revisits Ireland to bring a troop of femmes of colour who describe themselves as “locked, loaded and ready to take to the stage in this genre-bending, heart-thumping, mind-expanding performance”.

They say they will reclaim the narrative and explore what it means to be a Woman of Colour in Ireland, through episodes of dance, song, poetry, performance and more.  

Absent the Wrong

Dylan Coburn Gray and Once Off Productions bring this play to the stage, which is conceived partly as a time-capsule of the response to the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Report. It explores “the hurt, the anger, the struggle for straight answers”. It’s not reportage or documentary but instead is an “artistic meditation on memory, on archives, on history – on what the official record doesn’t show, has never shown, can’t show”. 

Oops, This is Toxic

Calling all millennials! Julie Jay creates a love letter to Britney Spears that is also a dark comedy nostalgia-fest “for anyone who has ever dropped to that ‘Hit Me Baby’ beat and who came of age against the backdrop of 90s/00s misogyny”.

Along the way she will cover everything from the Bill Clinton scandal to celebrity arson to the lows of noughties reality TV. Jay describes ‘Oops’ as “a celebration not just of Britney, but of everyone who survived an era where Justin Timberlakes flew high while Janet Jacksons got grounded”. 

An Evening With Michael Fry and Killian Sundermann

Internet comedians Michael Fry and Killian Sundermann became well known during Covid, cheering us all up when things were grim. Now’s the chance to finally see the pair bring their jokes, sketches and tunes to the live stage. 

yz35LTb0 Michael Fry and Killian Sundermann Dublin Fringe Festival Dublin Fringe Festival

The Perfect Immigrant – Samuel Yakura

This Dublin Fringe Festival commission is about a man who leaves Nigeria and settles in Ireland, while trying to hold on to both worlds. It’s described as a story “woven through prose and poetry”, which grapples with the discomfort of this immigrant settling into a new land. 

Climate Worrier – Colm O’Regan

If you’re very worried about climate change but don’t know what the hell to do about it, O’Regan invites you to avoid despair and instead join him in an hour of stand up comedy, memoir and even hope.

Fluff – Lianne O’Hara

This play explores sex work in Ireland, by following two Dublin strippers through an evening’s work. It looks at topics like bodily autonomy, feminism, entitlement, power, and money in a setting which is usually kept behind closed doors. The festival says Fluff will challenge your beliefs around sex work – and show you how it’s done.

pHjWUzmk Xnthony Dublin Fringe Festival Dublin Fringe Festival

Oliver Cromwell Is Really Very Sorry – Xnthony

Xnthony takes on Oliver Cromwell in an alt-musical theatre performance that takes on Oliver Cromwell’s time in Ireland through a queer lens, taking in cancel culture along the way. Expect a night of “pure carnage, legendary pop anthems and bloody historical re-enactments”. The piece tackles Britain’s history of colonialism, and Ireland’s own participation in it too. 

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