Archiv der Kategorie: Abbey Theatre Dublin

The Long Journey Home

Phillip McMahon: Come On Home, Abbey Theatre (Peacock Stage), Dublin (Director: Rachel O’Riordan)

By Sascha Krieger

Home is a drab  living room. Shabby wall-paper, a well-worn armchair, an old sofa (set design: Colin Richmond). The light is always somewhat on the dim side. In the middle of the room: a coffin. The lady of the house has died, time for her disgraced gay son, a former seminarian thrown out of his education and then his home to return after 20 or so years. This is the setting of Phillip McMahon’s new play, produced on the Abbey’s Peacock stage by director Rachel O’Riordan. The sense and meaning of home has been at the heart of Irish theatre since it was created as a concept as part of the re-awakening of the idea of an Irish nation around the beginning of the last century – a process the creation of the Abbey was a key part of, by the way. Home is where the corpses are, the skeletons in the closet or in plain sight. Collective or personal, the past always seems present when Ireland is trying to find out who she is. May playwrights have wrestled with those demons, the ghosts of an insecure and repressive society, a religious dictatorship , a stifling authoritarian molarity driving generations away. Recently, Ireland has opened: marriage equality, abortion rights, attempts to uncover the past and heal its wounds. This is the backdrop of Come On Home, a reminder that there is still a long way to go.

Image: Patrick Redmond


The Smallest of Worlds

James Joyce (Adapted by Dermot Bolger): Ulysses, Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Director: Graham McLaren)

By Sascha Krieger

This summer, Dublin’s two major theatres are diving into the collective identity of Ireland’s capital city. While the Gate has a somewhat harmless stab at one of the most popular expressions of modern, post-Church-state Ireland with Roddy Doyle’s The Snapper, the Abbey, traditionally the space for discussions about and definition of Irish identity, takes on the book that put Dublin on the map, in literature and the mind of the world, and has influenced the way the city is looked at ever since: James Joyce’s Ulysees. Even so, its Dublin-ness might not be the key aspect of this mammoth of a novel: the way it has revolutionised story-telling, the way it presents the world through streams and puddles and rivers of consciousness, unconsciousness and fantasy, the way it represents a fragmented, non-objective perception of reality has radically changed this very perception and collective awareness of it. And literature, too, for that matter. A theatre adaptation naturally has to make choices, cannot do justice to the novel’s achievements in their entirety. But even with this caveat, Dermot Bolger’s adapation and Graham McLaren’s production leave much to be desired. Way too much, to be honest.

Image: Ros Kavanagh


Tense Present

Sean O’Casey: The Plough and the Stars, Abbey Theatre, Dublin / Lyric Hammersmith, London (Director: Sean Holmes)

By Sascha Krieger

Two years ago, Ireland celebrated the centennial of the 1916 Easter Rising, a small rebellion against British rule, brutally crushed and the beginning of a development that lead to the creation of the Irish Free State three years later. Very much unpopular at the time, it has since entered political folklore as a pivotal event, the opening salvo of Irish independence. Its leaders are legends, founding fathers of the country they never saw. Ten years after the Rising, Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars opened in Dublin. Its depiction of the events from the underbelly of Irish society, poor tenement dwellers who experienced it as anything but heroic, caused riots as it questioned the official founding myth of the Irish state. It was a logical and challenging choice for the Abbey theatre’s 2016 season, a decision nobody took lightly. The fact that an Englishman was chosen as the director was just the beginning. Sean Holmes‘ production could not be further removed from both nostalgia and hagiography.

Image: Sascha Krieger


„Wer würde sich entscheiden, nicht zu sein?“

FIND 2017 – Dead Centre: Hamnet, Dead Centre / Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Regie: Ben Kidd, Bush Moukarzel)

Von Sascha Krieger

Über 90 Millionen Mal hat er den Ball schon gegen die graue Wand geworfen, immer ist er abgeprallt. Aber, so hat er auf Google gelesen, wenn er es unendlich viele Male tut, wird er irgendwann einmal die Mauer passieren. Zumindest hofft er das. „Quantentunnel“ heißt das. Er, das ist ein 11-Jähriger in T-Shirt und Kapuzenjacke, der seinen Sculrucksack mit sich trägt. Als wir ihm das erste Mal begegnen, ist er auf der Rückwand zu sehen, eine Projektion, vor uns, dem gespiegelten Theaterauditorium. Bald steht er leibhaftig auf der Bühne, in Gestalt des fabelhaften jungen Dubliners Ollie West, und bleibt doch, immer in der Gegenperspektive, auch Projektion. Nein, das ist kein gewöhnlicher Schuljunge, der sich und uns zunächst fragt, ob vielleicht sein verschwundener Vater im Publikum sei. Hamnet heißt er, ja mit „n“ – was für ein Unterschied ein Buchstabe doch macht. Der Shakespeare-Kenner weiß: Hamnet hieß des Dichters einziger Sohn, gestorben im Alter von 11 Jahren, sein Vater zum Zeitpunkt des Todes abwesend. Vor diesem Hintergrund erschließen sich die Bemerkungen des Jungen, schon sehr lange 11 Jahre alt zu sein, nicht zu wachsen, seinen Stimmbruch nicht zu erleben. Nein, er ist nicht gerade auf dem Heimweg von der Schule, er ist hier gefangen in einer Zwischenwelt, hoffend, irgendwann die Wand zu durchbrechen.

Foto: Ste Murray, Bild: Jason Booher


Henrik Ibsen: John Gabriel Borkman, Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Director: James Macdonald)

It’s a cold and lonely world that director James Macdonald and set director Tom Pye have turned the Abbey stage into.  Mounds of snow frame the set on either side – in the end when all pretence of societal ambition, when all limits af civilised life are given up, the snow will take over. Before this rooms of different sizes are superimposed, greyish walls, hinting at cloudy skies, a bare, cold setting, fit for lonely people. The antique furniture does not create a feeling of comfort and cosiness – they are painful reminders of what has already been lost.


William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Abbey Theatre, Dublin (Director: Jimmy Fay)

14 years after a remarkable production starring Des McAuliffe , Macbeth is back on the Abbey stage. Unlike, then, however, little to nothing comes together in this production. The stage is bare, simplistic, a touch modern, a strange environment for the mediaeval style costumes and acting that is so conservative it borders on farcical. Little moves here, the dynamic, the vortext of destruction that makes this Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, gives way to slow motion and, yes, even boredom. Words fall on barren ground, whatever action there is never gains momentum. This Macbeth is more like a scenic reading, it never gains life.

In its best moments this is uninspired and boring, in its worst ist ridiculous and bland. The most violent scenes are enacted behind a screen and lead to laughter. When the „action“ shifts to England, this is announced by playing the song Jerusalem and Malcolm and Fleance having a picnic and practising cricket moves. This is the creative level Jimmy Fay brings to the play. One may have thought, there could never be such a thing as a boring Macbeth. This much Jimmy Fay has achieved.