Theatre Review: St Joan at Lyric Theatre Belfast

I am  somewhat familiar with the story of Joan of Arc and a little less familiar with St.Joan the play by  George Bernard Shaw, based on the life and trail of Joan of Arc published in 1924. But what I witnessed this week  on the stage of the Lyric Theatre was a modern day woman expressing herself through words, actions and unadulterated passion (not unlike the ladies and gents marching for the rights of females in Ireland at the weekend). I found a women who was full of integrity, who grew from the girlie meek protestor to the leader of the rebellion and who stood-fast to her beliefs even through condemnation .

Lisa Dwyer Hogg in the role of Joan is like an epic tidal wave she sweeps the audience up in every move and action. We are pulled along with her voice and we, like her fellow actors  in arms cannot help but be pulled along on this roller coaster of a ride.

Director Jimmy Fay sets his scene in an open plan office with tiled roof, stained walls and unforgiving lighting. Something quite similar to an office of a bank (which I used to frequent) and like in the banking world, his characters are idolised and condemned all in the one space.

Joan is idolised, condemned, rejoiced, loved by state and church throughout the play but at the peak of her “fame” she is seen as a threat. The fabulous Abigail McGibbon plays a number of roles in this production (some originally cast as male roles) but she constantly comes to the aid of Joan, offering her a way into and out of trouble. In last few scenes she takes on almost a maternal role as she tries to plee with Joan to save herself but to no end.

The entire cast of St. Joan fit together perfectly together like a jigsaw there multi-talented and portray the tragedy with respect, grit and a sprinkle of humour.

I loved this production there were moments when I laughed and rejoiced, but it had me on the edge of my seat throughout, tears in my eyes and anger in my heart. Bravo to the Lyric more productions like this please.

Want to check it out for yourself visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk the show runs until the 8th October.

 

Emer D xx

 

 

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Something for the weekend: Belfasts New Whiskey Walk

This week I had the pleasure of taking the first whiskey walk around Belfast and although I was suffering from a cold and it was a horrible wet,dark night I loved it and want to recommend it to you all.

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It was such a fun night checking out some amazing Irish Whiskeys. Being served them straight up, in cocktails,part of a boiler maker,signature serves etc. you find out which combination is your favourite, what whiskey appeals to your senses and you get to meet new people and have a lot of fun on the way.I see it as a fantastic hen/stag night out or a brilliant ice breaker on a corporate night but overall I think it’s fun for all ( even if you are normally a cocktail girl. You will surprise yourself!)

Tickets cost £60 and include:

· Stop one: Bittles Bar – Belfast’s smallest pub with a massive Irish whiskey collection. The Whiskey Walk begins with a welcome reception drink of Jameson, Ginger and Lime
· Stop two: The National Grande Cafe – The Whiskey Walk moves on to The National for a Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey Sour demonstration and cocktail with nibbles.
· Stop three: The Duke of York – Boasting the largest whiskey selection in Northern Ireland, The Duke of York is one of Belfast’s most famous whiskey bars. Here guests will be guided through a tasting of Powers Gold.
· Stop four: The Dirty Onion – Formerly a bonded whiskey warehouse, The Dirty Onion is the next stop on the Whiskey walk. Guests will be treated to the venue’s signature Boilermaker – a perfect pairing of Jameson Caskmates and Belfast Black stout.
· Stop five: The Merchant Hotel – The final stop on the Whiskey Walk is Belfast’s award-winning Merchant Hotel, where guests will round off the evening with a tasting of a special Premium Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey Flight including Powers Three Swallow, Greenspot and Redbreast 12 Year Old.

Dillon Bass  launched the new whiskey walk alongside it’s New Whiskey Club this week.WhiskeyClub.com is a new initiative from the drinks company it’s to be the new Mecca and one-stop shop for fans of Irish whiskey to find out more about their favourite tipple.

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Phil Ervine, director, Taste and Tour; Joanne O’Hagan, marketing manager Dillon Bass and Joe Magowan; Irish Whiskey Ambassador for Dillon Bass launch the new Belfast Whiskey Walk, part of a new Whiskey Club initiative from drinks company, Dillon Bass.Picture: Elaine Hill

Commenting on the launch of the new initiatives, Joanne O’Hagan, marketing manager for Dillon Bass said: “At Dillon Bass we have been passionate about Irish Whiskey for a long time. We have been working with the industry over a number of years, educating and training on Irish Whiskey, and we recently employed a dedicated Irish Whiskey Ambassador, Joe Magowan earlier this year.

“It is great to see the growing interest in Irish Whiskey – from bars and retailers but also from consumers. This interest is growing locally but also on a global scale – Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the world. And we are seeing that growth in Northern Ireland with Jameson in double digit growth year on year.

Dillon Bass has partnered with Taste and Tour – the award winning team behind Belfast Food Tours – to add a Whiskey Walk to their list of popular tours.

Commenting on the launch of the new Whiskey Walk, Phil Ervine, director, Taste and Tour said: “We’re very proud of the Whiskey Walk we’ve created alongside Dillon Bass. Their passion for and knowledge of Irish Whiskey is second to none and we can’t wait for guests to experience our Whiskey Walk.

“Here at Taste and Tour NI It is our aim for people to finish the Whiskey Walk with a new found appreciation and knowledge of Irish Whiskey and the Belfast bars that serve it.”

For further information, visit http://www.whiskeyclub.com , follow @WhiskeyClubNI on twitter, or like the Whiskey Club NI Facebook page for further updates.
Tickets for The Whiskey Walk cost £60 per person and can be booked online at http://www.tasteandtour.co.uk.

 

Something for the Weekend:Festivals with a twist; Chocolate and Teddy Bears.

This weeks something for the weekend blog is actually go based on what to do next weekend (I thought I’d give you time to plan.) It features two festivals which are a little bit different But which embrace two of my favourite things, chocolate and theatre.

Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival

Chocolate lovers and food enthusiasts are set to gather soon in Killyleagh, County Down for the village’s premier gourmet festival. Sponsored by Finnebrogue Artisan, the event will showcase the very best artisan food selections from local producers, and of course, a mouth-watering offering of cocoa products from native chocolatiers.

We are delighted to invite you and one adult guest (children 16 and under are free to attend) to enjoy the Festival’s treats on Saturday 24th or Sunday 25th September 2016 at The Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Family Fun Days. Experience the live Food NI kitchen, world-class chocolatiers, leading local artisan food producers, and a full line-up of family and kid-friendly entertainment set against the stunning backdrop of Killyleagh Castle!

 

Big Telly Theatre Companies Big Sunday!
The last Sunday in September used to be one of the biggest days in the Portstewart calendar – the trains offered special fares for the last trip of the season, farmers celebrated getting the harvest in and people got all dressed up and came from miles around to join in the fun.

For the last three years, Big Telly have worked with the Portstewart Traders to revive the tradition and to reinvent it as a festival which celebrates the heritage of the town and its personality as a thriving and unique resort full of independent thinkers, artists and entrepreneurs.

Drawing on the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, we will use the theme of bears as a stimulus…think Paddington and marmalade, Winnie and honey, Goldilocks, Yogi and Baloo. Events proposed for this year so far include; animal sculptures, chocolate workshops, dog show; street theatre; vintage tea party, vintage coaches and a very special Teddy Bears Picnic.

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Shape up for the Summer:Falling off the Wagon

Ok, ok this blog post has been a long time coming BUT here it is. I am being completely honest here. At the start of the summer I had good intentions. I signed up for a PT session with the Culloden Hotel and Spa. I worked out a new training regime. I spent time in the gym, jogged around the grounds and altogether started feeling a lot more healthy rested and the pounds had started to fall off.
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Then the sunshine came out the BBQs began, my diet went out the window and in it’s place, basking in the glorious sun with cocktails in hand. You’ve seen this coming guys, you have read the blog  posts, seen my holidays and all the parties I attended and the copious amounts I’ve consumed. Whoops! So much for shaping up. But like all good wannabes here we go again. It’s September a prefect time to get back to a normal routine.
So head bowed in shame, I’ve stepped on the scales (got a bit of shock) and I am returning to the Gym with more determination than I began. Although I may not be able to look the PT’s, receptions or manager  at the Culloden in the eye for a while.
I am going to embrace the treadmill, lovingly swing the kettle bells, work my way through the basket of “little workouts with a BIG impact” and find the motivation and determination to work my way towards that perfect LBD at Christmas. I can do this!!! Who’s up for joining me?
Emer D xx
PS if you feel like joining in check out my original induction blog and get signed up Shape up for the Summer: Induction.

Something for the weekend:Why not board the Pizza Express

It’s Saturday (yippee) what are your plans for the weekend? Hibernate on the sofa watching the Xfactor, heading out for drinks with the girls. What about food?

My suggestion for this weekend is PIZZA. One of my favourite staples (not that you would know looking at me lol). Last week I got to board the Pizza Express and check out two new restaurants in Belfast and it was the prefect night out. Good company, in luxurious surroundings,lots of chilled drinks and delicious food.

 

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The new restaurants in Ballyhackamore and St. Annes Square Belfast opened last night and I for one will be back to visit very soon. The staff are friendly and eager to please. The surroundings comfortable,modern and fun. I especially loved the CS Lewis inspired wall in Ballyhackamore and the copper lights in St. Annes.

 

My highlights from my visit last weekend had to be the amazing gluten free hawiaian pizza, the crisp white Sauvignon wine and the deserts to die for. I may have had one or two of those….

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Anyway get your family,friends together and check these new Pizza Express outlets out, I’m sure they will become a sure family favourite.Oh and if your feeling lazy Pizza express do deliveries (through deliverroo) and you can also collect. So why not have Pizza tonight??

Tell them I sent you

Emer D xx

ps Another little tip if it’s your birthday they give you free prosecco (just sign up online.)

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Theatre Review: Little Shop of Horrors at the Grand Opera House Belfast

Imagine being upstaged by a big green plant. Yup, I’m talking about a certain green Venus flytrap  in the Little Shop of Horrors. Well, that’s exactly what happened to an amazing cast of actors at the Grand Opera House, Belfast on Wednesday night.

I don’t mean any disrespect to the actors on stage, but Audrey II the mighty, man-eating plant in the Little Shop of horrors was mesmerising. The little jerky movements of every leaf and that great big toothy grin had every audience member in the sold out auditorium in stitches. Not to mention the deep bass tones emineting from within. Josh Wilmott, the puppeteer and Neil Nicholas, the voice of Audrey II make an amazing team and the Sell A Door company should be immensely proud of such a satisfying, feel good production.

Most people will be aware of The Little Shop of Horrors musical. In fact when I was discussing this musical with peers it turns out there was a big 90s revival of the production in schools throughout the UK. But I am sure no-one has seen the musical done with such poise and brilliance as this touring company.

With a small touring cast of eleven, this production is electric. I adored Sam Luptons nerdy, shy,  but somewhat maniac Seymour and I wanted to swap clothes and gossip with Stephanie Clifts Audrey. I felt empathy, love and that I had formed a friendship with each and ever character before the end of the first act and I really believed every moment of this eccentric production. Add in the fabulous Rhydian (yes him of X-factor fame) playing Orin the devious crazy dentist and some other fantastically funny cameos and I was in musical heaven.

A fantastically fun musical tribute to the original 1960s film with heart-breaking songs such as Audrey’s Somewhere that’s green. This production goes down as one of my favourites this year.

The production closes in the Grand Opera House tonight so be quick and grab a ticket!! image.jpeg

Ps. I have been avoiding going to the dentist all week (I have an irrational fear). However I have been suffering for a torturous toothache so seeing the loathsome dentist being feed to Audrey II just made this production all the more pleasurable ! Hahaha

Emer D xx