The Irish are coming

Choice: One to see in the next seven days
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The Independent Culture
Mothers' Day may have to take a back seat this year. Falling as it does on 17 March, it clashes with that greater event, St Patrick's Day, when Irishmen all over the world will be making a difficult decision between the box of Black Magic and the bottle of Black Bush. At London's BAC, however, even a whole day of celebration has been deemed insufficient; St Paddy's is the first day of their Irish festival, which runs until Easter.

Featuring theatre, dance, music and comedy, the Festival pools some of the best of the Irish arts. Its flagship show, running throughout the three weeks, is the world premiere of acclaimed writer Dermot Bolger's Baby Jean (below left). When Paul and Anna Farrell discover that their teenage daughter, Jean, is pregnant, they swiftly organise a visit to London for an abortion. But before they go they have to face Paul's old schoolmate and colleague, who they suspect of having raped Jean. Baby Jean's director, Jim O'Hanlon, is also appearing in In High Germany, Bolger's excellent one-man show set in the aftermath of Ireland's elimination by the Dutch from the 1988 European Championships. Derry-based Ridiculusmus are also performing their latest show, All About H. Hatterr.

Of course, no festival involving Irish drama would be complete without Beckett, and BAC's is no exception. Beckett-spotters will be afforded a rare chance to see Acts without Words, a dark presentation of the radio play All That Fall, a reading of Molloy and a performance by Peter Marinka of A Piece of Monologue.

Comedians are also descending from all over Ireland: Graham Norton from Cork; Owen O'Neill from County Derry; and Parsons and Naylor from, er, Devon and Yorkshire respectively. On St Patrick's Night itself, there is also an enormous comedy bonanza to kick off the festival, featuring, among others, the inspired Dylan Moran. Slinte.

RICHARD TURNER

Irish Festival, BAC, Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 (0171-223 2223)

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