Two weeks of comedy, theatre, music and more will soon be coming to the triangle between Belfast’s Arthur Square, Custom House Square and Writers’ Square (opposite Stan’s Cathedral) kicks off on Thursday 29 April.
Along with the Out To Lunch sister/warm-up festival held each January, the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival is always a treat. What caught my eye in the programme is summarised below, but be sure to check out the full line-up on their website.
Lunchtimes (& Mornings)
Thursday 29 April at 1pm // Now in her mid-seventies, broadcaster, journalist and campaigner Joan Bakewell is thoughtful and feisty. She’s talking over lunch in The Black Box.
Tuesday 4 May at 1pm // Cruel and Unusual is comedian Keith Farnan’s hard-hitting show that “shows the death penalty in its true light – a barbaric, racist, politically motivated act of revenge that doesn’t achieve any of its so-called aims, including deterring violent crime”.
Friday 7 May at 1pm // Tim Brannigan’s autobiography (soon to be available in book form) Where Are You Really From? is a startling story to tell of being hidden for a year after birth before his mum ‘adopted’ him rather than face the scandal of an extra-marital affair with a black junior doctor. A lunchtime of racial prejudice, sectarian tensions and family secrets.
Saturday 8 May at 11am // Patrick Monahan is a 467 year old “story teller and flying carpet enthusiast” with an old tale to tell audiences from 5 to 105 who book to turn up in the Black Box Café. Monahan’s grown-up routine – Cowboys and Iranians – is in the Duke of York (or is it The Dark Horse?) at 8pm on the previous evening, Friday 7 May.
Evenings (& Mid Afternoons)
Friday 30 April at 5pm // Mr Jones with Fred the Amazing Stunt Pig. Not much else to say! Hooked on a career as a circus superstar, Mr Jones knew it couldn’t be achieved solo. Join him and his partner as they perform Nerves of Steel and the Dive of Death in Cotton Court. (Appears twice a day at various venues from Friday 30 April to Monday 3 May.)
Friday 30 April at 5.30pm // “Belfast has had nothing of any architectural merit built in the past 50 years” said the text message read out on Good Morning Ulster earlier this year. Finola Meredith chairs the Architecture Debate in The Dark Horse. Ten well-known Belfast buildings will be presented and the expert panel and public audience will get to vote.
Friday 30 April at 6.30pm // Cinema isn’t just the preserve of Belfast Film Festival. The film Art & Copy gets under the skin of the world of advertising in Doug Pray’s documentary being shown at the University of Ulster’s Belfast Campus.
Friday 30 April at 8pm // If you missed Sharon Shannon at the St Patrick’s Day concert at the Waterfront, then you’ll find her playing with her four-piece band in the Festival Marquee for “a stomping, knee-slapping live show”.
Saturday 1 May at 6pm // It’s Only a Movie with Mark Kermode is the chance to hear the iconic film critic’s best anecdotes live in The Dark Horse (30-34 Hill Street, BT1 2LB).
Sunday 2 May at 3pm // Lumiere – emotive vocals from Éilís Kennedy and Pauline Scanlon in The John Hewitt.
Sunday 2 May at 8pm // Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a cult musical in the same category as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Glam, punk and country … but musical taste won’t be the reason it’s not everyone’s cup of tea! It tells the story of a fictional band fronted by an East German transgender singer. It’s a complicated story, and involves big wigs. (Repeat performance in the Waterfront Studio at 8pm on Friday 7 May.)
Tuesday 4 May at 8pm // Andrew Maxwell is back after a sold out show at Out To Lunch in January for a night of comedy in the Festival Marquee.
Wednesday 5 May at 7.30pm // CQAF are showing the “poignant, funny and never less than fascinating” film Silver Jew in the Black Box Café. A no-budget documentary shot in three days that follows David Berman’s seminal band Silver Jews as they stop over to play in Jerusalem. Free.
Thursday 6 May at 8pm // Bertie Ahern is the guest speaker at the third annual David Ervine Memorial Talk. Gerry Creen and Leah McConnell will provide the music.
Thursday 6 May at 8pm // The Divine Comedy are playing in the Festival Marquee in Custom House Square.
Saturday 8 & Sunday 9 May at 7.30pm // Nouvelle Carny Part 3 is “an absurd trip into the world” of “disobedient clowns, suffering acrobats and confused jugglers” down at the Belfast Circus School.
Sunday 9 May at 3pm // Singer and flautist Nuala Kennedy and “her eclectic band of merry minstrels” playing in The John Hewitt.
Also, watch out for the free gigs in The John Hewitt featuring Omagh’s Dirty Blues Band on Friday 30 April at 9pm, and Gareth Dunlop playing alongside “Canadian folk-punk accordionist” Geoff Berner on Sunday 2 May at 8pm.