Archiv der Kategorie: James Macdonald

When Darkness Comes

Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Harold Pinter Theatre, London (Director: James MacDonald)

By Sascha Krieger

There seems to be a sense out there in what we call the „Western world“ of decline, of having our best days behind us, a desire to find our way back to a golden age when things were clearer, better, less, confusing, more black and white. In the United States, for example, a hollow reality TV character just got elected President on the stunningly meaningless promise to „Make America Great Again“. When, one might ask, was America „great“ and what was its greatness? Many point back to the 1950s, an idyllic yet modern, quiet yet industrial America unperturbed by social unrest, fresh off winning a world war, self-confident and free from self-doubt. Sure, there was McCarthy, moral oppression and a deeply entrenched patriarchal society but aren’t those minor flaws – or perhaps none at all? Edward Albee’s perennial audience favourite Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is set against this America’s backdrop. A well-respected couple, he a college professor, she the university President’s daughter, inviting a new teacher and his wife into their home. What could go wrong? The answer should be pretty well-known by now: everything. For, beyond the shiny surface lies a yawning abyss, a black nothingness of fear and desolation. The black hole of a world on the brink of distinction.

The Harold Pinter Theatre (Image: Sascha Krieger)

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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.

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