MACBETH: William Shakespeare.
Abbey Theatre, 26/27 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1, until 15th May 2010
Mon-Sat Evening 7.30pm
Sat Matinee 2pm
Audio-described Sat 15 May 2pm.
Runs 2hr 30min including interval.
TICKETS: + 353 (0) 1 87 87 222 .
Review: John McKeown April 21st .
Dark tale with cheek and subtlety
You can always count on director Jimmy Fay for a cheeky, iconoclastic touch. In the Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, shortly after Obama’s electoral win, the interval was inaugurated with Jimmy Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner, with a young woman being riddled with bullets. Tonight, in the midst of the ongoing church abuse scandal the bloody-handed Macbeth’s regal dress is a Cardinal’s sawn-off scarlet cassock, with a bright gold cross around the neck.
The hulking yet nimble physicality of Aidan Kelly focuses attention on every movement and word as ineluctably as the moth to the flame, but in that scarlet coat we are engrossed, and the production’s success is sealed. This is the most assured Macbeth I’ve witnessed for a long time. There are moments when he errs on the side of over- exuberance, as when, mad with fright at the appearance of Banquo’s ghost, he overturns three heavy banqueting tables and wraps his head in a tablecloth. But there’s subtlety too, as when he’s unable to get physically comfortable on Duncan’s throne.
Eileen Walsh’s Lady Macbeth fits hand in glove with Kelly’s neurasthenic regicide. Without a shred of queenly hauteur she’s the ambitious EveryWife, exasperatedly goading her equivocating husband into doing what she knows must be done. “Give me the knives!” she spits at her gibbering spouse who’s forgotten to leave the blood-smeared weapons with the sleeping chamberlains. Not only do we feel her power over him here, but we see it in the shape of the shadows thrown by one of Paul Keogan’s single lights against the stage left tormentor. Lady Macbeth’s towers over his.
There are no serious casting misjudgements. John Kavanagh’s Duncan could do with a stronger dose of gravitas while Michael McElhatton’s Banquo seems a little too wet to be Macbeth’s accomplice. Karl Shiel’s MacDuff is ripe with manly honour, a good contrast with the whiff of perfidy that clings to his ally in revenge, Ronan Leahy’s Malcolm.
Set and lighting design by Paul O’Mahoney and Paul Keogan respectively is in perfect accord throughout, empowering crucial moments and allowing the fervid stage action to breathe.
Aidan Kelly: Macbeth
Andrea Irvine: Lady Macduff
Bríd Ni Neachtain: First Witch
Charlie Bonner: Lennox / Doctor / Ensemble
Diarmaid Murtagh: Menteith / First Murderer / Ensemble
Eileen Walsh: Lady Macbeth
Gavin Fullam: Fleance
Gráinne Keenan: Third Witch
Ian Lloyd Anderson: Donalbain / Second Murderer / Ensemble
Jason Quinn: Macduff’s Son
John Kavanagh: Duncan
Karl Shiels: Macduff
Kate Nic Chonaonaigh: Second Witch / Nurse
Malcolm Adams: Ross / Ensemble
Michael McElhatton: Banquo
Phil Kingston: Seyton / Third Murderer
Robert Donnelly: Macduff’s Son
Ronan Leahy: Malcolm / Ensemble
Rory Nolan: The Porter / Angus / Bloody Man / Ensemble
Jimmy Fay: Director
Paul O’Mahony: Set design
Catherine Fay: Costume design
Paul Keogan: Lighting design
Philip Stewart: Original music / Sound design
Paul Burke: Fight director