Review: Macbeth at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum

Review: Macbeth at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum, Dublin, October 3rd-26th, 2018, directed by Geoff O’Keefe

Review by Ema Vyroubalová, Trinity College Dublin.

This was an engaging and fast-paced production, notable particularly for its rendering of the Witches, intriguing choices of doubling, tripling, and even quadrupling of roles, as well as an imaginatively conceived yet also very functional stage set. Because the play opens with the three Witches on stage, how a particular director chooses to portray this trio helps set the tone of the rest of the production. O’Keefe’s Witches were dressed in loose black garbs and hooded capes, designed to enable the actors to see but to prevent others from seeing their faces. The effect of these costumes (designed by Olga Criado Monleon) was quite eerie, especially as it gradually became clear to us in the audience, from the changing voices and the varying statures of the black-clad figures, that the roles of the witches in different scenes were being rotated among different actors. A look in the programme indeed reveals that five of the nine cast members play a witch at some point: Shane Quigley Murphy is both a Witch and Lennox; Andrew Kenny, Matthew O’Brien, and Ailbhe Cowley are triple-cast as Witch/Banquo/Doctor, Witch/Malcolm/Murderer, and Witch/Ross/Gentlewoman respectively; and Eanna Hardwicke gets to be Witch/Captain/Fleance/Young Siward. I suspect that the bundling of parts was to some extent prompted by budgetary constraints and/or availability of actors. But the unusual implementation of this bundling in regards to the Witches presents these figures as ubiquitous forces that not only shape the play’s events but that also somehow emanate from the world of the play’s human protagonists rather than from a separate supernatural realm.

It is worth noting that the production avoided the more common double-casting of Lady Macbeth with one of the Witches—likely because it would have implied the kind of too specific pre-emptive power dynamic between the human and the supernatural worlds this production sought to steer clear of. The Witches appeared as silent characters in a number of scenes where Shakespeare’s playscript does not call for their presence. They hovered in the background or foreground, watching the others’ actions or enacting inscrutable ceremonies around the cauldron (which stood at the front of the stage for the whole duration of the performance) and over a miniature replica of a semi-derelict medieval castle hall (or perhaps the nave of a church?) (which was located near the right-hand stage exit). As they did so, they periodically emerged out of dark corners of the set only to blend back into them. This underscored the witches’ omnipresence in a very physical way, by literally keeping at least one of them on stage for the majority of the show. A Witch thus watches as Duncan receives Macbeth to give him the good news of his newly gained title; a different Witch listens as Lady Macbeth reads out the fateful letter from her husband and then observes from the background the meeting between the Macbeths. The resulting integration of the Witches into virtually every moment of the play, whether through the overlapping in the casting of the majority of the roles or their insertions into most scenes as silent figures, ironically makes it very difficult to hypothesize about their roles in the play’s moral universe. They can be seen as representing everything, anything, and nothing at the same time—similar to how the dark void of the colour black results from absorbing all frequencies of light.

The remaining double and triple casting choices would seem to confirm this production’s refusal to locate the source of evil in the play somewhere in the triangle of usual suspects constituted by Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, and the Witches. Jed Murray plays both MacDuff and one of the Murderers while Damien Devaney plays Duncan, Porter, and Seyton. Only the roles of Macbeth (Neill Fleming) and his wife (Nichola Macevilly) are spared from this production’s love affair with doubling and trebling of roles, which ultimately emphasises the couple’s isolation and self-consuming despair. The set, designed by Gerard Bourke, creatively utilised the whole available space both vertically and horizontally as it included tree trunks, rocks, and caverns that the actors could variously position themselves on, in, or under. The set also featured a human skeleton and a partially burnt cadaver ominously suspended above the stage and periodically lit (lighting design by Kris Mooney) so as to cast shadows on the actors and actions below. I was a little disappointed by the elimination of many of the passages from the so-called Hecate scenes, especially since the witches and their ever-present cauldron otherwise play such a central role in this production. Another slight disappointment was the beheading of Macbeth’s corpse at the very end of the production, which prompted confused laughter from a portion of the audience as the special effect looked rather cheap and came across as almost comical, which did not appear to be the production’s intention.

Review by Ema Vyroubalová, Trinity College Dublin.

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Henry Fuseli’s 19th c. painting of the three witches

 

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Irish Renaissance Seminar at Maynooth University

The 20th Meeting of the Irish Renaissance Seminar will be hosted at Maynooth University, Department of English, on Saturday 10th November 2018, in the Iontas Building.

The theme is “Earth Songs: Eco-Criticism and Early Modern Studies”

Schedule

1.30 Welcome / Light Lunch
2.00 Paper Session I:
Dr Kevin De Ornellas (University of Ulster): “‘Great is the beauty of Creatures’: Godfrey Goodman Praising Animals Praising God”
Professor Pat Palmer (Department of English, NUI Maynooth): “Earthen Bodies: The Chthonic in Country House Poetry”
Chair: Dr Edel Semple (Department of English, University College Cork)

3.00 Tea / Coffee

3.15 Keynote Paper
Dr Deana Rankin (Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Literature, Department of English & Drama, Royal Holloway), “Border Disputes”
Chair: Professor Andy Murphy, School of English, Trinity College Dublin

4.15 Paper Session II:
“Dramatising Denial: A Looking Glass for London and new directions for ecocriticism”: Dr Gwilym Jones (Lecturer in Renaissance Literature, University of Westminster)
Chair: Professor Marie-Louise Coolhan (Department of English, NUI Galway)

5.15 IRS Discussion / Business meeting, followed by wine reception to mark 20th anniversary.

The organisers, Dr Stephen O’Neill and Professor Pat Palmer, acknowledge the support of Maynooth University Conference & Workshop Fund, and Maynooth University Department of English.

“Macbeth” at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum

Mill Productions present one of Shakespeare’s most intense tragedies. Directed by Geoffrey O’Keeffe and featuring a talented professional cast, this is a traditional production, with genuinely gripping and often affecting performances which sharpen our understanding of Shakespeare’s analysis of human folly and strive to do justice to this greatest of plays.

Evening Performances: Wednesday 10th and Wednesday 24th October at 7.30pm – Tickets €18/€16

Contact the Box Office directly to book your school or group in – info@milltheatre.ie / 01-2969340. Play running time: 2hrs 30mins with a short interval.

School Performance times weekdays at 10am and 1.30pm. A Study Guide will accompany the production. Schools/teachers please see the website for details here.

 

 

 

Theatre: Macbeth, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, 15 – 19 September 2019

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Tickets from €16 at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

The ruined aftermath of a bloody civil war.  Ruthlessly fighting to survive, the Macbeths are thrust towards the crown by forces of elemental darkness.

The National Theatre, creators of War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, bring this epic and visually daring production of Shakespeare’s most intense tragedy on a tour of the UK and Ireland immediately following a sold-out run in London.

Directed by National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris (Cabaret, London Road) and designed by Rae Smith (War Horse, This House) this new production propels Shakespeare’s classic title into a post-apocalyptic world of anarchy and uncertainty.

Writing Lives 1500-1700 – conference, UCD 6-8th September 2018

#writinglivesUCD

Thursday 6th September 2018, Humanities Institute, UCD

9-9.30               Registration and coffee

9.30-11             Plenary I: Prof Andrew Hadfield (Sussex), Reading The Life Between the Lines: Nashe, Spenser and Others

11-11.30            Coffee

11.30-12.30                   Panel 1: The Religious Self

Richard Kirwan (UL) “Trouble Every Day: Experiences of Religious Exile in the Writings of Jacob Reihing”

John McCafferty (UCD)  ‘”O Felix Columba Caeli/ O Happy Dove of Heaven”: a manuscript life shredded by early modern print’

12.30-1.30         Lunch

1.30—2.30        Panel 2: Unmooring life-writing: method, memory, and genre

Chair: Prof Kate Chedgzoy (Newcastle)

Ramona Wray (QUB), “Reading Life-Writing in the Cary/Tanfield Record”

Kate Hodgkin (U of East London), “Memory, melancholy and the languages of loss in 17th century life writing”

2.30-3               Break

3-4.15               Panel 3: – Life writing and religion

Ann-Maria Walsh (UCD) “Mary (née Boyle) Rich, Countess of Warwick (1624-1678): Writing and Experimenting – A Spiritual Life”

Mark Empey (NUIG) “Life writer and Life writing: the parallel worlds of Sir James Ware”

5pm                      Wine reception – Common Room, Newman Building, UCD

Friday 7th September 2018, K114, Newman Building, UCD

9.30-11             Plenary II: Prof Kate Chedgzoy (Newcastle), Writing Children’s Lives

11-11.30            Coffee

11.30-1             Panel 4 – Women in the 17th Century

Carol Baxter (independent scholar) “’Serving God rather than my father’: religious life writing as a rejection of the patriarchal family”

Naomi McAreavey (UCD) – The Countess of Ormonde’s Letters (title tbc)

Danielle Clarke (UCD) “Irish women’s recipe books as life writing: form, process, method”

1-2pm                   Lunch (exhibition and archive visit)

2-3pm                   Panel 5 – Travel and formation of the self

Maria Luis Dominguez-Guerrero (Seville) “Rhetoric of the Conquest: Narrations from Castilian Explorers”

Eva Holmberg (Helsinki)  “Visual Self-Description in Seventeenth-Century British Travel Accounts”

4-6pm                   Walking tour of Renaissance Dublin (AM Walsh), followed by pub visit and conference dinner, at Le Pichet, Trinity Street, Dublin 2* [* Dinner is €40 per head. ]

Saturday 8th September 2018, K114, Newman Building

9.30-11             Plenary III: Prof Alan Stewart (Columbia), Writing Lives under Duress

11-11.15            Coffee

11.15-1 Panel 6 – Alternative Forms

Nelson Marques (Miami) “War and Self: Soldier’s Petitions in Seventeenth-Century Portugal”

Emma Claussen (Oxford)  “Forms of living in Descartes’s Les passions de l’âme

Raluca Duna (Bucharest) “Writing the self with images, painting identity with texts”

1-1.30pm              Roundtable and close

Followed by optional lunch in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

The conference is free to attend, but for catering purposes the organisers would appreciate it if you could sign up using this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-lives-1500-1700-tickets-48653964317

If you have any questions, please email the organisers at writinglives@ucd.ie.

This conference is supported by the College of Arts and Humanities and the Humanities Institute, UCD.

#writinglivesUCD

Image credit: ‘The Librarian’, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, c.1566 (Skokloster Castle)


 

Theatre: Hamlet, Dublin Theatre Festival, Gate Theatre, 27 September – 13 October

This production of Hamlet is a very exciting inclusion in this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival, with Ruth Negga playing the title role. Tickets seem to be selling quickly so don’t delay if you’re interested.

Hamlet Online

Dublin Theatre Festival

Hamlet | Gate Theatre | 27 Sept-13 Oct Book Tickets

The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!’

A murdered King. A remarried Queen. A state on the precipice. When society starts to collapse, do we fight or flee?

Hamlet is one of the most revived Shakespeare plays in the Gate’s 90 year history (1928–2018). In celebration of the theatre’s pioneering founders, Hilton Edwards and Micheál Mac Liammóir, Shakespeare’s iconic story of politics, vengeance, madness and murder is reimagined in a ground-breaking, visionary Gate Theatre production for today’s audience.
 
Oscar-nominated Irish actress, Ruth Negga, makes her Gate stage debut in the title role of Hamlet, joined by a cast of Ireland’s finest actors. Award-winning director Yaël Farber heads an exciting creative team including Tony Award-winning set and costume designer Susan Hilferty, lighting designer Paul Keogan and composer Tom Lane.

‘The dilemma “to be or not to be” has held us in its thrall for centuries – and has never seemed more potent and urgent. A Hamlet for our time.’ — Yaël Farber, Director

This production is funded by the Arts Council.

Cast and Creative Team
Cast includes: Fiona Bell, Gavin Drea, Aoife Duffin, Nick Dunning, Peter Gaynor, Steve Hartland, Mark Huberman, Gerard Kelly, Conor Madden, Barry McKiernan, Ruth Negga, Owen Roe, and Gerard Walsh
Directed by Yaël Farber
Set and Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: Paul Keogan
Sound Design: Tom Lane
Movement Director: Muirne Bloomer
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth
Associate Director: Marc Atkinson
Textual Advisor: Ben Power

Information and Tickets
Venue: Gate Theatre
Dates: 27 & 28 Sept, 1 & 2, 4 & 5, 8 & 9, 11 & 12, Oct, 7pm
29 Sept, 3, 6, 10, 13, Oct, 1.30pm & 7pm
Tickets: €25-€55
Duration: Approx. 3 hrs. incl. interval.