SAOIRSE RONAN has been delighting audiences at the Almeida Theatre in North London this past month as she tackles the role of one of Shakespeare’s most recognisable antagonists – Lady Macbeth.
The Carlow actress’s star turn in ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ began on 29 September and is set to continue to sold-out audiences week-on-week until 20 November.
Fans of Miss Ronan’s work will be pleased to know that having attended a showing of the play on Saturday evening, The Irish Post can now reveal that both the actress’s performance and the production itself were roaring successes.
Taking its cue from other modernised versions of Shakespeare’s plays – including the RSC’s 2016 production of ‘Hamlet’ starring Paapa Essiedu – The Almeida Company’s ‘The Tragedy of Macbeth’ has been transposed from the gothic heathland of 17th Century Scotland to an almost unrecognisable contemporary dystopia; a 21st Century “Scotland” more treacherous and brutal than anything originally conceived by the bard.
Director Yaël Farber immerses her audience in a world more akin to ‘Mad Max’ than James I, and this can be seen most clearly in the way she has portrayed the play’s Weird Sisters – no longer the wart-bedraggled witches chanting around their cauldron, but something more sinister; inner manifestations of Macbeth’s fatal flaw, ambition.
Macbeth himself is played brilliantly by Olivier-nominee James McArdle, and aside from the palpable tension that builds throughout with Ross Anderson’s Banquo and Emun Elliott’s MacDuff, it is the fiery chemistry between McArdle and Ronan that most excites.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are here rendered in all their splendid complexity – insane, passionate, tender, caring, homicidal, brutal, guilty – so that when the denouement comes, the audience are not shocked, but rather hemmed in by a claustrophobic sense of fated inevitability.
All of which is to say that this is an excellent new take on an old classic, perfect viewing as the nights begin to darken.