02 March 2004
The Film: 21 Grams
The director Alejandro González Ińárritu made a considerable impact with his first feature, 'Amores Perros' in 2001, winning a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a Best Director Oscar nomination. He has also won awards for two shorts, the advertising film 'Powder Keg' and his segment of last year's multi-part, post-11 September movie, 11'09"01. One of the other directors in that compendium was Sean Penn, and he's one of the stars of Ińárritu's new feature, '21 Grams'. Written by his collaborator, Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter of 'Amores Perros', this again is no typical story in the Hollywood mould. Like the last movie, it's about a group of ordinary people, strangers whose lives are brought together by a tragic event. Penn plays a dying college professor, Paul, whose marriage is failing just as surely as his heart. His chance of a transplant comes when co-star Naomi Watts' character, Cristina, loses her husband and two little girls in a road accident, the guilty party being a born-again ex-con, played by Benicio Del Toro.

Amanda Coogan, Karen Fricker and Michael Feeney Callan discuss '21 Grams'

The Show: The Playboy of the Western World
The Galway-based theatre company, Druid, has launched its grand project to celebrate the work of the playwright John Millington Synge with a production of his most famous play, 'The Playboy of the Western World'. Synge was one of the Abbey Theatre's first directors, along with Lady Gregory and WB Yeats, and 'The Playboy.'s first production took place at the theatre in 1907, where it caused riots. The current show is directed, as was Druid's first production in 1975, by Garry Hynes. The cast this time includes Anne-Marie Duff, seen lately in Channel 4's 'Shameless', who plays Pegeen Mike, Cillian Murphy as Christy Mahon, Eamon Morrissey, Frank O'Sullivan and David Pearse.

The Panel discusses Druid Theatre's production of 'The Playboy of the Western World'

The Exhibition: Blue
The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin is both an art museum and library, a world-class collection of Islamic and Oriental art, and its manuscripts include some of the earliest surviving texts of the Bible and other books. In a new initiative, the author Colm Tóibín has collaborated with the Library's own experts to create a new temporary exhibition - a personal selection and interpretation of the collections. It's called 'Blue' and that's the simple theme - Tóibín looked for objects that are both 'blue and beautiful'. The pieces in the show come from many cultures, from East Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and from many centuries.

The Panel discusses 'Blue' at the Chester Beatty Library

The Book: The Swing of Things
The author Sean O'Reilly was born in 1969 in Derry. He published a short story collection, 'Curfew', in 2001 and his first novel, 'Love and Sleep', the following year. 'The Swing of Things' is his new novel, a story that combines elements of the thriller, a portrait of contemporary Ireland, North and South, and the psychological journey of a man in need of salvation. The central character, Noel Boyle, is a Northerner who, after spending several years in jail, has landed in Dublin where he attends Trinity College as a mature student. But he's finding it hard to keep it all together, and despite the attentions of young fellow-student Emer - or "The Dove" as he calls her - there are ominous signs of bigger trouble, not least the presence of a street-poet, Fada, whose presence seems more than a little malevolent.

The Panel discusses 'The Swing of Things' by Sean O'Reilly

The Performance: Zoe Conway
The Dundalk-born violinist Zoe Conway has managed the rare feat of mastering many styles of playing. Classically trained, she started by winning prizes in both the classical feiseanna and the all-Ireland traditional competitions. But she's also a lover of jazz, and her repertoire ranges from mainstream through Appalachian and bluegrass styles. She's also toured with 'Riverdance' and performed with the National Symphony and Irish Chamber orchestras. Her self-titled album was produced by 'Riverdance's Bill Whelan. If you missed her on her recent tour, there's another chance to hear her on Sunday week, 14 March, at the 'Music For Fun' concert at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. That's at 3pm. Tonight she plays 'The Pizzicato Waltz' and 'The Hangman's Reel'.

Watch the performance

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