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Purposeless Movement © Mihaela Bodlovic Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic

Critically acclaimed works in the programme


Find out what the critics had to say about some of the theatre and dance shows from this year’s programme. 

In addition to brand new productions like Red Dust Road and The Crucible, the 2019 programme also features some celebrated shows from around the world. Here’s a quick guide to five of the shows that have already wowed the critics.

Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer | Photo: Luca Truffarelli
Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer

Created by Belfast-based choreographer and dancer Oona Doherty, with driving music by DJ David Holmes (Killing Eve, Ocean’s Eleven, Hunger), Hard to be Soft looks behind the masks of violence and machismo to the inner lives of Belfast hard men and strong women.

“[Oona Doherty’s] choreography is utterly honest and viscerally intense, underpinned by an unflinching belief in the power of dance to change people and achieve social justice.”

The Irish Times

Doherty premiered Hard to be Soft at the 2017 Belfast International Arts Festival before touring the piece in France, Germany and now onto Edinburgh.

The Secret River

a stunning, shattering piece of theatre that goes to the heart of our history

The Sunday Telegraph

Commissioned by Sydney Theatre Company under Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, The Secret River premiered in 2013. This hard-hitting production exploring the dark history of Australia’s early settlers was an instant success with audiences and critics alike, resulting in a return season and Australian tour in 2016. The award-winning play now comes to the UK for the first performances outside of Australia.

The Secret River | Photo: Heidrun Löhr
Kalakuta Republik

Coulibaly’s choreography is ecstatic, engaging and teeming with vibrant energy.

The Upcoming

Choreographed by Burkina Faso-born Serge Aimé Coulibaly, Kalakuta Republik draws lines from the African revolution of the 1970s to the political resistance of today. The result is a dizzying fusion of dance, music and revolution that embodies the spirit of Nigeria’s Fela Kuti as a radical activist, musical legend and political rebel. Since the premiere in Brussels in 2017, Kalakuta Republik has toured across Europe to critical acclaim.

La Reprise: Histoire(s) du théâtre (I)

The acting is exceptional across the board... It is an extraordinarily mature, crystalline and compelling piece of theatre.

The Guardian

Milo Rau has constructed an uncompromising theatrical documentary around the savage killing that shocked Belgium in 2012. An unflinching examination of our darkest impulses, La Reprise has garnered praise for its exceptional acting, meticulous research, and profoundly thought-provoking effect.

Rau is one of the most compelling and controversial figures in contemporary European theatre today and has recently constructed the Ghent Manifesto for Contemporary Theatre citing "It's no longer about portraying the world, it's about changing the world"La Reprise does just that.

La Reprise | Photo: Michiel Devijver
Purposeless Movements

It’s theatre with an intensity of purpose, honest even unflinchingly graphic, wickedly funny and memorably impressive at every level.

The Herald

Birds of Paradise Theatre Company’s 2016 hit production returns for a run at this year's International Festival. Purposeless Movements is a visually stunning dance theatre piece built around the stories of four men with cerebral palsy, how it affects their lives, their gender, their masculinity and their movement.


Browse the full theatre programme

The Crucible

Discover the full dance programme

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