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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“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.

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.

Theatre: Much Ado About Nothing, 3 – 7 July, St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham

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From dlr Mill Theatre Dundrum:

Balally Players Summer Shakespeare will be performing Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare outdoors in the beautiful walled garden of St Enda’s Park.

This witty and most popular comedy deals with the stormy loves of two couples: the confirmed bachelor Benedick and the spirited Beatrice, and the naive and innocent Hero and the gullible and hot-tempered Claudio.

While ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’, in Much Ado it is helped and hindered by friends and villains alike. As Hero says ‘some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps’.

Full of wit and banter, fools, clowns and music, it has been described as “Shakespeare’s greatest sex-war comedy” (The Telegraph, 2017)

 

Book tickets online, or visit or phone the box office (+353 01 296 9340).

British Shakespeare Association Conference at Queen’s University Belfast, 14-17th June

[Quoted from BSA website.]

2018 BSA Conference – 14-17th June 2018 at Queen’s University Belfast

Following on from the 2016 celebrations, the 2018 BSA conference offers an opportunity for academics, practitioners enthusiasts and teachers (primary, secondary and sixth- form teachers and college lecturers) to reflect upon Shakespeare Studies today.

What does Shakespeare Studies mean in the here-and-now? What are the current and anticipated directions in such diverse fields of enquiry as Shakespeare and pedagogy, Shakespeare and race, Shakespeare and the body, Shakespeare and childhood, Shakespeare and religion, Shakespeare and economics, Shakespeare and the law, Shakespeare and emotion, Shakespeare and politics, Shakespeare and war and Shakespeare and the environment? What is Shakespeare’s place inside the curriculum and inside debates around theory, queer studies and feminism? Where are we in terms of editing and materiality, and where does Shakespeare sit alongside his contemporaries, male and female? How does theatre practice, performance history, adaptation, cinema and citation figure in ever evolving Shakespeare Studies?

In particular, this conference is keen to explore the challenges facing Shakespeare Studies today and to reflect on newer emergent approaches. 

Plenary Speakers include: Prof. Pascale Aebischer (University of Exeter), Prof. Clara Calvo (University of Murcia), Prof. Richard Dutton (Queen’s University Belfast), Prof. Courtney Lehmann (University of the Pacific), and Prof. Ayanna Thompson (George Washington University).

UK Premieres include: Veeram (dir. Jayaraj, 2016), a South Indian film adaptation of Macbeth, and Hermia and Helena (dir. Matías Piñeiro, 2016), an Argentine adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

BSA 2018 also includes: Q+As with theatre director Andrea Montgomery (The Belfast Tempest, 2016) and film directors Jayaraj and Matías Piñeiro.

For more information contact BSA2018@qub.ac.uk

For details on the programme,etc. and to register, see QUB website here.

[Quoted from BSA website.]

[Image from The Belfast Tempest (dir. Andrea Montgomery, 2016), Terra Nova Productions. Courtesy of Neil Harrison (models Sean Brown and Louise Parker).]


 

Theatre: Much Ado About Nothing now playing at Smock Alley, Dublin

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Arclight Drama Studio

29 May – 2 Jun | 8PM | Boys’ School

Weaving wit, romance and comedy, Much Ado About Nothing is a whirlwind race to the finish line of “happily ever after”.

It is said that love conquers all, but not without a few battles along the way! Arclight Drama Studio have had a wonderful relationship with Shakespeare and have previously performed acclaimed productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth and As You Like It.

They are delighted to bring one of the bard’s most enduring comedies to the Boys’ School stage at Smock Alley.

Running Time : 90mins + Interval

WRITTEN BY: William Shakespeare
DIRECTED BY: Paul Cullen
LIGHTING DESIGN BY: Brian Nutley
COSTUME DESIGN BY: Ciara Phelan
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Ellen Barnes
WARDROBE: Sia McManus
ORIGINAL MUSIC: Darragh Cullen

CAST: Raven Aflakete, Bruna Allen, Ellen Barnes, Laura Bracken, Eoghan Byrne, Mark Byrne, Ally Courtney, Darragh Cullen, Elaine Cullen, Eve Cullen, Paul Cullen, Ronan Cullen, Sarah Farrell, Rachel Fennell, Martha McKinney Perry, Coley McManus, Alan Nolan, Chloe O’Hanlon, Aoife O’Rourke, Ciara Phelan, Karl Timmins


Founded in 1992, Arclight have produced more than 60 plays in Ireland and have also performed internationally. This is their fourth time performing in Smock Alley after previously being here in 2013, 2016 and 2017 with their acclaimed productions of Macbeth, As You Like It and Our Town.

Tickets available at the Smock Alley website.