Theatre Review: RIOT In Vicar Street

Five fabulous stars for the return of RIOT, a perfect blend of entertainment elements in an explosive and highly addictive cocktail.

The cast of RIOT posing for the show poster.

“A colorful, exciting rollercoaster you can’t wait to ride again.”

THISISPOPBABY, established in 2007 by Jennifer Jennings and Phillip McMahon, has had many sold out shows and has been behind many successful events. From Poptent at Electric Picnic to the iconic performance art club WERK, this creative and talented group of people has lit up the queer art/night scene of Dublin for a decade now.

When they presented RIOT at Dublin Fringe Festival in 2016 they described it as “their most entertaining show to date” and winning Best Production confirmed their bold claim.

I remember the huge buzz online around the show at the time it was on in Merrion Square last year. Most of my friends had seen it and loved it, many local news sites were raving about it. It definitely felt like I had missed something not being able to see it (major FOMO).

When earlier this year it was announced the show was going to be back and my partner surprised me with a pair of tickets, I was pretty excited.
At the same time, remembering all the amazing things I had heard from its previous run, I was skeptical about how a show could be THAT good and afraid it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype and expectations.

Panti, Adam Matthews laughing while standing, two other cast members are sitting in the background

Well, I can honestly say RIOT surpassed all expectations.

The all-star cast of RIOT offers a level of variety and talent that is truly remarkable.

The Sirens’s vocal performances were spot on. Dance duo Up & Over It mix of Irish hand dance, pop music and comedy was really fun to watch and got the audience dancing too.

Dublin Old School’s writer and star Emmet Kirwan gave an amazing performance with his spoken word/rap pieces. ‘Heartbreak’, where he talks about the challenges faced by a teenage single mother, in particular was extremely powerful and moving.

Close up of Irish playwright and actor Emmet Kirwan looking in the distance

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Ex GAA player, now Ireland’s only Cyst wheel artist, Ronan Brady was a delight to watch perform. Aside from the obvious eye-candy (tight singlet on for most of the night, not to mention his cheeky and funny striptease), his aerial acrobatics number was truly mesmerizing.

Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Lords Of Strut were really outstanding. Their crazy 80s-inspired dance routines were wildly entertaining and their cheeky irreverent comedy was so good, I laughed until my jaw hurt. Plus, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a hunky/goofy man running around the stage “dressed” only in a cling film mankini?

The Queen of Ireland Panti was the perfect host, delivering constant moments of gold comedy, as well an inspiring speech that reminds us we have the power to make our own destiny… I left Vicar Street thinking I too could become Farrah F*cking Fawcett!

Out of all the great and beautiful moments from the various performances, my personal favourite was when Megan Riordan (Once, The Musical) sang ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’  with a twist. It was a standout moment in the show and one you will not forget.

And if all of this wasn’t enough, Dead Cat Bounce performed (for the first time together four in years) as the surprise guest act (there is a different guest act with each show, how amazing is that?) as an extra treat for the audience.

The entire cast on RIOT on stage facing the public for the final performance

It’s hard to imagine how a show can successfully mix theatre, pop music, dance, slapstick comedy, drag, circus acts, social commentary and political satire, but RIOT manages to perfectly blend all these elements in an explosive and highly addictive cocktail.

Everything works so wonderfully well together. Every act complements the next; every comic moment is balanced by something that moves the audience. It’s a colourful, exciting rollercoaster you can’t wait to ride again.

RIOT truly lives up to its name delivering a show that is an uplifting, thrilling, exhilarating, moving and inspiring experience. The level of energy and participation of the audience throughout the entire show is something I’ve never seen before. By the time I left the theatre I was so euphoric and energised, I felt like I could change the world… and dance while doing it!

If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it, you will be blown away.

If you have seen it… you already know you’re going to want to RIOT again and again.

Only 3 shows left and almost sold out, get your tickets here, you won’t regret it!

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