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Apr 26th

Macbeth - The Abbey Theatre, Dublin

By Irish Reviewers

Macbeth is currently showing in the Abbey Theatre until May 15th, 2010. Directed by Jimmy Fay, written by William Shakespeare and starring award winning actress Eileen Walsh you can almost hear the sounds of footsteps running to the Abbey to buy tickets but overall I would have to say, unless you are studying it in school/college you won’t walk away with a life changing or brilliantly entertaining night.

 

The stage design, costume and theatrics are second to none, as are all of the Abbey’s productions but in raising the question “how many times have we all come across Shakespeare Macbeth” I was hoping to be brought on a journey that wowed me but instead I was brought on the typical theatrical production of Macbeth, which was disappointing.

 

Eileen Walsh takes on the role of Lady Macbeth but I couldn’t help thinking that the role must have been insultingly easy for her. I think we all would have loved to see her explore more areas of Lady Macbeth particularly in the second half but unfortunately Fay left it unexplored which was disappointing. For those of you who are not familiar with Eileen Walsh, you might remember her in the Magdalene sisters (2002), where she played the role of “Crispina”.

 

Another well known face in there is Michael McElhatton who plays the role of Banquo. You may be familiar with McElhatton from starring in the hilarious “Fergus’s Wedding” and “Paths to Freedom” many moons ago as well as “Spin the bottle”. McElhatton’s stage presence is excellent and he commands the stage brilliantly, bringing us on the journey of a well thought, humble and Nobel gentleman, almost overshadowing the lead.

 

Oh by the way the programme is something definitely worth grabbing. The arts council have a page in their letting you know that you (the tax payer) contributed €75 million in 2009 to the Arts council (that’s about €1 a week for every household) to fund the arts in the country. Nice work!

 

For more information on this production or to book your tickets if you’re going to go along to see it visit: http://www.abbeytheatre.ie/whats_on/event/957

 

Venue:

The Abbey Theatre

Dates

7th April – 15th May 2010

Time

7.30pm (2pm matinee on Saturdays)

Price

€13 - €38 (Book online and get 2 for 1)

Booking Line

(01) 8787222

 

Robin Stewart
UK Theatre Network/Irish Reviewers 
  

 

 

Nov 21st

A DOLL'S HOUSE

By Irish Reviewers
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A DOLL'S HOUSE by Henrik Ibsen

A New Version by Alan Stanford based on a literary translation by Paul Larkin

Alan Stanford takes on Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” at the Helix Theatre, DCU and is showing there until the 27th of November 2009.

A Dolls house is a play centred around Nora- A housewife and mother of two set in 1879. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Doll's_House )

This play explores the feminine housewife role in the late 1800’s and brings us on a journey of what seems like a ditzy blonde housewife which turns into a story about a smart woman with dark secrets. As we are introduced to the basic set design/home of the Helmers we are introduced to the role of husband and wife and the hilarious but business like relationship between Nora and her husband Torvald played by Lisa Lambe and Peter Gaynor, superbly. As the play unravels we discover dark secrets, which as the plot unfolds we begin taking a frantic and daunting journey with the central character. How will she keep her secrets or what will be the consequence of keeping them? This play explores blackmail, deceit, love, friendship and betrayal.

Overall this play didn’t offer an exhilarating thrill. It seemed like the perfect play to take your grandparents to though!

Robin Stewart
Irish Reviewers

1pm shows– 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th & 27th November

8pm shows- 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 26th & 27th November
Venue: The Helix Theatre, DCU
Tickets: €24 (conc. €22)
Weblink:
http://www.thehelix.ie/2009_Q4/SecondAge.htm
Jul 1st

The Last Days Of A Reluctant Tyrant

By Irish Reviewers

‘Arina’-The reluctant tyrant in question, a poor servant girl, who marries into a family a class above her. Who then works tirelessly, to build a property and land empire, ruling her new family with a ‘velvet-glove’ that only a true matriarch can.

Spawning three sons, Steven, Peter and Paul, and expanding her empire, at the expense of all else, including her own salvation. The death of the prodigal son-Steven, makes Arina rethink her life and relinquishes her power, divides up the empire, to her remaining sons and moves out to seek a better life.

The ensuing collapse, deaths and hopelessness’ of her family to carry on the family empire, see Arina once again return to the head of the family, to save what is left.  The final scene of the play is Arina’s; played by Marie Mullen, Tour de force performance, and had me quaking in my boots.

Inspired by a 19th Century novel – The Golovlyov family by Mikhail Saltykov-Shehedrin it emphasises the futility of greed and religious insincerity. Using the dramatic effect of playwrights such as Anton Chekhov, the long speeches and the characters physicality, help develop the underlying tension, and unsaid thoughts and dreams of all on stage.

The play set over a 10 year period, includes a large ensemble cast who all play their parts well. This all helps to establish an epic Brechtian feel to the piece.

Steven-played by Darragh Kelly gives a wonderfully extravagant performance, as the long-lost son, who has been living the life of excess for many years. The other two brothers; Peter played by Declan Conlon, develops a sinister and pious character, whilst Paul played by Frank McCusker as the under-valued son both play their parts well. One other fine performance, was from Anna played by Janice Byrne, a joy to behold on stage.

The play has a ‘Groundhog day’ feel, with events continually repeating them selves. Tom Murphy’s writing is epic, which makes the show nearly 3 hours long.

Tom Piper’s set, with large planks of wood towering over the stage, creates a very masculine back-drop, where only the strongest survive. These multi-layered sets have been seen in other productions lately namely: Solemn Mass for a Full Moon and Jason Byrne’s The Comedy of Errors. This helps to use the space to great effect, allowing the family ghost to re-appear as if to prick the conscious of the remaining characters. The lightening too, by Ben Ormerod, works magically to transform the stage from one scene to another.

Overall the show is an enthusiastically played piece, leaving you breathless at the end. The epic nature of the writing and acting, builds to a magnificent climax, where only the reluctant tyrant could survive

Location:  The Abbey Theatre, Dublin
Dates : 27 May – 11 July
Time: 7:30
Tickets: From €15-€35
Bookings: +353 878 7222

 

 

 

Jun 30th

Stoker

By Irish Reviewers

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Stoker is original piece commissioned by Organic Productions. It is based on the life of Bram Stoker while writing one of the most famous novels of all time – Dracula.

The period drama opens in the home and office of Bram Stoker played by Fergus Kealy with his wife Florence Balcombe Stoker played by Sharon O Donnell. We are brought rapidly into the 1920’s with excellent costume and stage design as we continue to meet all 10 characters of this production including Oscar Wilde played marvellously by Neill Flemming.


This production brings us on bouts of excellent comedy, dapper and sometimes violent waves as we are enthralled into the mind of the writer and what he does or becomes while writing his masterpiece. This period drama is an exciting new work that digs up and dishes out an important part of history well captured with brilliant period design, acting and writing.


We meet such characters as Henry Irving, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde and of course Bram Stoker as well as all of their female partners at the time. We are reminded of the brief liaison Oscar Wilde once had with Florence and sense rivalry between Oscar and Bram while swiftly getting hints of sarcasm and comedy with reference to the sexuality of Oscar at the time.


Henry Irving is portrayed by the dashingly likeable and tall Brian Robinson who you can’t help but love. He carries an air of “save the day while you love me” while Florence Balcombe played by Sharon O’Donnell so dazzlingly brings us into the realness of a wife coping with a husband who is dangerously crossing over to the dark side as we see her so inevitably caring and dealing with the trials and tribulations of her time and her relationships.


Fergus Kealy takes us on the journey of Bram Stoker so superbly as you can’t help but wonder about him immediately as he gives off his writer exterior and introvert interior so slightly in order for the audience to capture him within minutes. He takes us from husband - to writer - to office worker swiftly with superb technique as he brings us on the journey he encountered in his head while writing and creating Dracula.


This production portrays brilliantly the mind of the writer and life of one of the most famous novelists of all time. It is the first time a story has been done on Bram Stoker and his life and is most definitely something you should go and see. The acting and costume design is second to none and you will feel like you are getting beyond your monies worth as you are continuously introduced to some of the most interesting characters of the 1920’s.

 

 

 

VENUES

26 Jan -31 Jan                           New Theatre, Dublin

1 Feb  -18 Feb                           Smock Alley, Dublin

20 Feb – 15 March                     Everyman Place Theatre, Cork

19 March -29 March                   Old Red Lion Theatre, London

4 April – 24 April                        Lowry, Manchester

 

Ticket Price: €15 in Ireland and €12 in London

Show times: 7.30pm

For booking go to www.myspace.com/organicproductionsdublin





Mar 6th

The Duchess of Malfi

By Samuel Miller
The Duchess of Malfi

Produced by Black Sun Theatre Company

Directed by Jemma Gross

The White Bear Theatre Club

Black Sun Theatre Company gives us a stark, modern Malfi, free of the omnipresent trappings of Fringe Jacobean drama. Gone are the inevitable cobbled together outfits and period costumes, and in their place we are treated to sharp suited nobles, prowling an economical but effective white space.

What stood out for me in this production was director Jemma Gross’s courage in approaching the text, and her refusal to adulterate the less popular themes of the play, instead remaining true to many of the original Jacobean viewpoints. This Duchess is a naïve, spoilt royal, unaccustomed to taking responsibility and ignorant of consequences. Ferdinand and the Cardinal – monsters though they may be – are genuinely wronged by their sister’s betrayal, and this is the first time I have seen a production that examines this. Gross is unafraid to embrace the darker aspects of the play, which is greatly to the production’s credit.

This is a tremendously committed, energetic and talented young cast. Trudy Hodgson’s Duchess and Bethany Audley’s Cariola exhibit terrific chemistry throughout the play, teasing Antonio and creating a true friendship. Henry Doulton’s foppish Antonio gives us the sense of a man swept up in events beyond his control, along with Sam Child’s likeable and excellently judged Delio. Alex Tanner brings a powerful, brooding Cardinal. Steven Rostance and Paul Mooney play a terrific comic double act as well as multiple characters, with Mooney’s Doctor a highlight. The excellent Jack Cole fills in the peripheral roles, and particularly excels in a gleeful portrayal of a demented lunatic. Rose Romain plays a wonderful Julia, strutting her way across the stage like a splash of blood.

However, the most watchable scenes for me were the ones between James Rose’s conflicted, tortured Bosola, and David Fensom’s brilliant Ferdinand. Bosola is a tremendously difficult character to play, and Rose tackles him perfectly, showing a man torn between his greed and his conscience. Fensom’s Ferdinand is a revelation – funny, sexually ambiguous, sadistic – and tremendously enjoyable to watch.

The Duchess of Malfi is a difficult play, and I’m always curious to see how theatre companies approach staging the trickier aspects of the piece. Jemma Gross deals with devices such as the wax corpses and copious violence with sensitivity, never allowing the production to swerve into Grand Guignol. This production is clever, well-played, intelligently directed, and certainly worth the trip to the White Bear.