28 June 2007

Old City, New Dreams Review

Just submitted the following post on DublinBlog.ie.

The Old City, New Dreams event last night at the Mill Theatre in Dundrum was very characteristic of its host publication, The Dubliner magazine: a little satire and humour, a little serious intensity (actually quite unusual for The Dubliner), and a little controversy – though decidedly far less controversy than the debacle with Tiger Woods’ wife last autumn. The general idea of the week’s Main Event was a) to hear from a variety of public figures in Dublin about how to make the city a better place to live and b) to elicit participation from the audience. In fact, The Dubliner’s editor, Trevor White, actually invited the audience to interrupt and throw things such as “popcorn or old socks” at the presenters if there was any disagreement. Unfortunately, to this blogger’s great disappointment, no such drama ensued. Had there been a contingent of England Premiership fans, I’m sure it would’ve been a different story.

DJ and concert promoter, Gerry Godley, started out with a rather vague answer to all of Dublin’s problems by quoting The Beatles – “all you need is love.” Though it later became clearer that he was suggesting a public agency to promote culture in the city centre (I think), Trevor summarized his answer numerous times throughout the evening by saying “Gerry Godley wants to promote more free sex – is that what you were getting at Gerry?”

Next up was comedian Arhondia and, as you might expect, she rose from the table to present her solution with a mini stand up comedy act. It didn’t go ever very well, though I’d be willing to giver her a second chance at Battle of the Axe on a Tuesday night. Her solution was free elocution lessons to give all Dubliners North Dublin accents.

Human rights expert and politician Valerie Bresnihan gave an emotionally intense plea to reduce crime and poverty by sending mental health workers from the state into the homes of patients. Though her tone didn’t exactly match the winsome atmosphere that Trevor tried to establish at the beginning, in the end her argument won the audience over.

Feargal Quinn submitted his recommendation to put a roof over the Grafton Street and Henry Street shopping districts. Irish Daily Mail’s Paul Drury put in his bid to preserve the traditional Irish pub in Dublin with a return to traditional Irish music and Guinness served at room temperature. In contrast, cheeky columnist Max McGuinness put forward his recommendation to leave nostalgia behind and ban the Irish language, Bloomsday, and Guinness altogether. Sarah Owens used the occasion to launch her own personal campaign to elect Mr. Tayto as Mayor of Dublin. (She is, afterall, in the advertising business.) And finally, Senate candidate, Stephen Douglas, suggested a plan to “evaporate traffic” in the city centre.

After the night got rolling, there was some response and interaction from various members of the audience. However, it probably could’ve used a handful of football fans or even WTO protesters to spice things up a bit. Overall, it was good craic and a great idea from The Dubliner magazine. The free cocktails at the end were a particularly nice touch. Old City, New Dreams continues for the next two nights at Dundrum’s Mill Theatre.