Dublin Fringe – a survival guide
War paint on and armed with two dozen tickets, a Dublin Fringe veteran will flit seamlessly from show to show like a cultural ninja. To help you do the same, we’ve put together some tips for survival in the trenches ahead of this year’s festival, which kicks off on the 5th September.
1. Trust the buzz...
Word spreads quickly. The plethora of first-time writers, directors and performers will be under scrutiny from day one, but the Fringe audience is forgiving of a couple of mis-cues and forgotten lines if the overall show looks like a winner. So talk to folks outside venues and see if it’s worth booking a ticket for the next showing, or follow #dubfringe reactions to figure out what the must-sees are before they book out.
2. ...But don’t always trust the reviews
Critics have their work cut out, running from venue to venue, scribbling out reviews with a sandwich in one hand and a double-shot espresso in the other, so it’s understandable that judgements might be harsh. The best rule to go by is this: don’t go to a show if it sounds like something you’ll hate, no matter how many stars it earns. But don’t write off a show that sounds interesting because of a bad review. That said, some of the fairest can be found on the Irish Times, Irish Theatre Review, Totally Dublin and Entertainment.ie.
3. It’s not all about temple bar
The hub of the Fringe is Temple Bar, and while the mix of venues here are diverse, don’t get too cosy. Try some of the more far-flung spots, like the Fumbally Café, the Axis in Ballymun, Mill Street’s Old Distillery or even Sandymount Beach. You get the double whammy of a performance and a new aspect of the city. Hop on a bus or a LUAS (Dublin’s rapidly expanding tram system) and take in the environment as you go.
4. Be Adventurous
Just because you’ve never been to a dance show doesn’t mean you won’t like one – Fringe acts tend towards the accessible, so don’t be scared of falling asleep halfway through something new.
5. Look out for last year’s winners
Check out the list of previous award-winners to see if they’re staging something new. The Spirit of the Fringe award commissions its winner to put on another show, with a little bit of extra pocket money, in the Project Arts Centre: this year it’s Paperdolls Bunk.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
There’s an emphasis on people power this year, as part of the Festival’s celebration of activism. Shows like ANU Productions’ Thirteen ask for public participation in an altogether more immersive approach – fitting for a study of the anniversary of the historic 1913 Lockout, Ireland’s own socialist revolution. Get stuck in.
7. Spot the themes
Most of this year’s work has an emphasis on social critique and reflections on the collective Irish psyche. Take a few minutes post-show to think about what your chosen show is trying to tell you – a cup of coffee or four will probably help you jog your brain.
8. Book a Table beforehand
Expect your tummy to start growling for attention halfway through a show. So scope the best nearby restaurants before hopping to a venue and book yourself a table for straight afterwards – it might even still be warm enough to sit outdoors. For some recommendations, check out our Fringe Food feature.
9. Find out what the future holds for dublin
Ever since the economic crash, Dublin has been bursting with new, creative ideas for a better future. A lot of those plans are already in action – you can hear the city’s brightest minds holding forth at the Trailblazery – TED Talks with a distinctly Irish spin - to find out about the city’s evolving place in European culture.
10. Book! Now!
Tickets tend to go quick so don’t wait around - check the full program and get your Dublin Fringe Festival tickets at http://www.fringefest.com/