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Posted by : RodDungate on Dec 20, 2016 - 10:08 AM Ireland
Dublin
Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy, adapted for the stage by Marina Carr
4 STARS****

Abbey Theatre, Dublin 1, until 28 January 2017.

Mon-Sat 7.00pm , Saturday Matinees 1.30pm.

Runs 3Hr and 30 mins, including one interval of 20mins.

TICKETS: +353 1 8787222
www.abbeytheatre.ie
Review: Anne O’Leary 16 December 2016.

Faithful, better than other versions, a treat.

Marina Carr’s adaptation surpasses many recent versions of this great classic including mini TV series and 2012 film version. Remaining faithful to the original, its central force is a tremendous performance by Lisa Dwan as a truly regal Anna and the complementary role of Rory Fleck Byrne as a rather mysterious Vronsky. Careful attention is paid to the choreographed movement (by Liz Roche) particularly to that first shared glance between the couple at the train station and the breathtaking ball scene. Every appearance of Vronsky and Anna sparkles with passion and skilful acting.

Two other important narratives within the story are not neglected either. As Anna destroys a family, Levin attentively builds one. His portrayal by Paul Mallon is strong as is Maguire’s as the fragile young Kitty who changes rapidly from innocent spoiled brat to wiser wife and mother. The couple embody the changing roles of men and women set in a time of intense transformation in Russia. Eternally pregnant Dolly and her philandering husband Stiva supply many of the lighter moments. Humour, wit and accents throughout are distinctively Irish.

The production is not without its faults. There are just too many scene changes – sixty-three in total over four acts. This number could be reduced even at the cost of removing some of the sub plots, which become superfluous outside of the novel context. Also the use of a toy train and a baggage trolley to convey arrivals by train onstage is cumbersome and rather crass, particularly as the characters ‘on board’ are wearing sumptuous furs.

Otherwise Sarah Bacon’s minimal design uses the large Abbey stage to great effect. It has dark parquet flooring and rich red curtains which mark key transitions and the passing of trains. They feature also in the highly theatrical death scene.

Live Music played on a piano onstage, carries the intensity levels of mood and tone particularly well. The score by David Coonan is an eclectic mix of Classical, Opera and Music Hall.


Cast and Creative Team:

Anna Karenina: Lisa Dwan
Vronsky: Rory Fleck Byrne
Karenin: Declan Conlon
Kitty: Julie Maguire
Levin: Paul Mallon
Dolly: Ruth McGill
Stiva: Killian Burke
Countess Vronskaya: Barbara Brennan
Nikolai: Anthony Brophy
Princess Sherbatsky: Derbhle Crotty
Prince Sherbatsky: Nick Dunning
Vanya/Seryozha: Cormac Melia & Jake O’Loughlin
Masha: Rachel Lynch & Amelie Metcalfe
Grisha: James McCann &Ronan Miller
Tanya: Hannah Beatty & Brooke Butler
Ensemble/Understudy:Alexandra Conlon & Barry McKiernan
Betsy: Margaret McAuliffe
Lydia:Cathy White
Pianists: Andrew Synnott & Cathal Synnott
 
Director: Wayne Jordan
Set & Costume Design: Sarah Bacon
Lighting Design: Sinéad Wallace
Composer:David Coonan
Sound Design: Philip Stewart
Movement Director: Liz Roche
Assistant Director: Zoe Ní Riordáin


 
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