Outdoor concerts in Cork are just the tonic we all need now

In her weekly Theatre Nights, Jo Kerrigan looks at some upcoming shows
Outdoor concerts in Cork are just the tonic we all need now

Karen Underwood, who performs as part of the Everyman outdoor summer season at Elizabeth Fort. Picture: Jed Niezgoda / www.jedniezgoda.com

NEXT weekend, July 23 and 24, we have the opening of the Everyman outdoor summer season in historic Elizabeth Fort. This is really a great choice for such events, bringing us back to the days of Shakespeare when plays were performed on a small stage in inn yards surrounded by the ‘groundlings’ who paid less to get in to see Romeo & Juliet or Othello because they were prepared to stand throughout, whatever the discomfort or the weather.

This time we get the chance to experience what they did, and after all the lockdown stress, to be in the open air and hear wonderful music or watch live theatre, is the tonic we all needed.

Friday July 23 brings Karen Underwood and John O’Brien with What A Difference A Day Makes, a joyful night of jazz, soul and blues by Chicago native Karen Underwood, accompanied on piano by John O’Brien. Can’t you just imagine that amazing voice echoing and re-echoing round the walls of the fort and out to Barrack Street? Gosh, apparently you can – have just re-checked the site, and that event is completely sold out! As is Laura O’Mahony’s comedy show, Live and Loud on the Saturday night, July 24. Looks like this was a particularly good notion of the Everyman team. Everybody is so eager to get out and enjoy life as it (almost) used to be. We will keep you posted on the other shows coming up during July and August up there in the fort, but in the meantime, if your heart was set on going to an event there, put yourself on the Everyman waiting list. See https://everymancork.com/

It’s the same story with the Opera House operatic events being held at the old City Gaol, on Emmet Place, and at St Mary’s Courtyard over the next week. La Traviata and Cosi fan Tutte are sold out at each location too. Well, it’s the way we have to think in this summer of 2021. Don’t assume there will be space anywhere – book as soon as you know about it. See https://www.corkoperahouse.ie/

But here is a show that should still have some tickets available, although you will need to hurry, because of ticket limitations. The great old Cork Arts Theatre is presenting that Leeside classic, As Some Tall Cliff, by John Power, from Wednesday of next week, July 21, for a ten-night run (excluding Sunday July 25).

Originally written in 1963, this shows the old Cork violently colliding with the new, and is based on real-life events. A tough old docker doesn’t see why his son should aspire to a college education. His mother yearns to see her boy make something of himself. Marion Wyatt, who directed The Sunbeam Girls, Shawlies, Dockers, On Albert Road and most recently Katty Barry, Queen of The Coal Quay, insists that having a Sunbeam employee, a Gouldings worker, a docker, a shawlie and an Echo boy in the cast didn’t influence her as much as the desire to keep the past alive and produce an eminently Corkonian piece. As Some Tall Cliff takes place in the Cronin’s home on the northside with the sounds of Shandon and the Echo boys setting the scene. The play is brought to life by some of Cork’s finest including Martin Blower, Regina Cooney, Seán Ahern, Úna Ryan, Marie O’Donovan, Kieran O’Leary, Martin Gould, and Emily Byrne O’Mahony, while introducing Aaron Kearney O’Neill.

Back in the 1960s, when that play was first performed, it was a custom for drama students at UCC to chant the unforgettable lines of the docker father to the priest, all endeavouring to get the unique Cork accent absolutely correct: “T’anks very much for all you done for the boy, fadder, but no son of mine is going to the university. He’ll go down the docks like his father before him!”

8pm start, over-12s only. See www.corkartstheatre.com , 021 450 5624.

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