Belfast's EastSide Arts Festival announces its 2019 programme

Published: 26 June 2019
Reporter: Michael Quinn

A silver-anniversary revival of Marie Jones’s A Night in November, a new play about the devastating effects of dementia, a modern retelling of the Faust legend and “revolutionary circus” headline the performance offerings in the newly announced programme for the eighth EastSide Arts Festival in Belfast.

Set against the backdrop of the 1994 World Cup, A Night in November is Olivier Award-winning Jones’s most explicitly political work, confronting the divided identities that wreaked havoc on Northern Ireland during the prolonged sectarian conflict of the Troubles. Recently revived by newcomers Soda Bread Theatre at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in a production directed by the playwright’s son, Matthew McElhinney, it features Matthew Forsythe as the football-loving Protestant office clerk who experiences a life-changing revelation.

The Amadan Ensemble’s signature blend of front-cloth comedy, dark humour and knowing anarchy is expected in the première of John Patrick Higgins’s “show about a show”, The Old Curiosity Show, a backstage farce about a troupe of luckless players wrestling with a quartet of Victorian melodramas. New writing specialists Tinderbox present Danny Kelly’s A Thought for Your Pennies, described as “a powerful human story about family, love and the breakdown of the familiar in living with dementia”.

Specialising in devised theatre, Curious Doings offer a contemporary take on the timeless cautionary tale of Faust that promises to fuse physical theatre and traditional storytelling in “an energetic exploration of addiction”.

There’s a sneak preview, too, of the curiously uncredited Living the Dream—based on a true-life story and featuring the spirits of football and music legends George Best and John Lennon—before it is seen at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Other Palace Theatre in London in 2020.

Declaring themselves “Ireland’s only revolutionary circus”, Tumble Circus are guaranteed to turn the Big Top inside out and upside down in Rampage, which promises “kick-ass circus skills and laugh-out-loud comedy”.

The EastSide Arts Festival runs in various venues in East Belfast from 1–11 August.