LIMERICK has an “incredible” new indoor venue that is bursting with potential. The old Dell building in Castletroy, re-styled as the Culture Factory and which runs to some 350,000 square feet, is akin to something you might more readily see in New York or Berlin.
It is currently in use as a venue for City of Culture and playing host to a show that is drawing thousands to witness it, doing much in turn to “shift” the energy around a project that appeared doomed in early January.
After the hype of Riverdance, attention quickly shifted to the almost indescribable theatre-cum-circus show, Fuerzabruta – meaning brute force – which has played to audiences all around the world, a fact that meant little to Limerick.
A week after it opened, the Argentinian-founded ‘multisensory spectacular’ still has people scratching their heads, but they are doing it with a smile on their faces.
As abstract as it is delirious, Fuerza is a feel good show, “the best show in the world”, according to producer Liz Hood.
“People have to come to enjoy and dance. Everybody has a big smile. This is the way that people live the show every night, everywhere around the world,” she said.
The show, a modern, Latin-infused, nightclub-set theatre show that draws heavy inspiration from The Beatles’ classic song A Day in the Life, is a series of gigantic set-pieces with little in the way of emphasis on narrative over spectacle. The mood that is pervading its way around the region, lifting the City of Culture out of the doldrums, can be traced from the success of Fuerzabruta.
No show has been performed to less than 700 people, and two more have been added to a run that stretches to Saturday. As many as 12,000 tickets have been sold, with the possibility of more. But coupled with this success is the reaction to the Culture Factory itself.
Seven weeks of constant work took place to fit out the venue to the massive specifications of Fuerza, as well as bringing the renowned show to Limerick for its Irish premiere, all at a cost of nearly €400,000.
“This venue has been an incredible journey, it has a lot of history,” said interim CEO Mike Fitzpatrick, surveying art by LSAD students, while Leading Armies entertained the masses pre- and post-show.
“It hasn’t been used commercially in quite a while, it was a demanding production event to get it where it is, and the last few days have been incredible watching it all come together.
“There are other things planned for it. It also has some potentiality for concerts, there is maybe a 4,000 person capacity in that space when it is fully opened out, so there are possibilities.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said he was “really happy that there is a sense now that it [City of Culture] has taken root.
“I think we are going to make a seismic change in the city and region and that is what it is about. There is definitely a shift and people are growing into the idea.”
City Council official Paul Foley, who has been seconded to the project, said a “phenomenal amount of work went into putting it all together”.
“It was a huge challenge,” he admitted. “We had very little time to manage those risks, but thankfully, we have been able to do so. The back-up team were instrumental in that.
“Genuinely there is fantastic potential there now and to be able to host a show like Fuerza, to be able to convert the building in a seven week window, it shows that Limerick can deliver. The reaction has been a testament to that.”