Over the last couple of years I have worked occasionally with Bang On Top – a Liverpool based theatre company responsible for ‘Brick up the Mersey Tunnels’, ‘One Night in Istanbul’ and ‘Brick Up 2: The Wirral Strikes Back’. On the 16th May I flew to Dublin to work on their latest production ‘Blow Up the Liffey Bridges’. We had a great cast of English and Irish actors, known for various soap operas, reality TV show, west end theatre productions and comedy. We were opening in the Grand Canal Theatre, a theatre more used to Spamalot, Chicago and other big budget, west end type shows. The opening night provided a few technical issues, soon to be ironed out we thought, but after the third night parts of the script were being reworked. Jokes that didn’t transcend the Irish Sea and inaccurate slang terms – it seems in Liverpool, we say ‘chippy’ whereas in Dublin it’s a ‘chipper’ (one character was addicted to fish and chips).
Dublin is a great city, the people are friendly, the architecture is interesting, the arts and culture scene is lively and thriving despite economic downturn. Yet we had a lot of competition for our show. Firstly, the Queen was in town. This, in itself, creates a security risk, but, due to the significance of this being the first state visit in 100 years, increased media interest, as well as thousands of people gathering to see an old lady be driven past in a car (can you tell I’m not a big royalist? I nipped into a shop and missed it) meant that a lot of attention was diverted from our little show. Secondly, just around the corner from the theatre, the UEFA Europe League final was being contested between Porto and Braga. The city was full of Portuguese, who surprisingly showed little interest in the subtle cultural differences between North and South Dublin being portrayed in our play. Lastly, as if we didn’t already have enough competition for audience, Obama decided to rock up in Dublin. Way to steal the limelight, man!
Ok, so ‘Blow Up the Liffey Bridges’ didn’t get the best reviews, the theatre didn’t sell out every night, but so what? I had a great time, worked with a great cast, worked with a great crew, and almost saw the Queen. That’s enough for me.