A group of budding child actors has been rubbing shoulders on stage with the professional cast of Macbeth.
A Shakespearean tragedy is not usually for beginners to the theatre.
A total of twelve children have been treading the boards in the Lyric Theatre’s production of Macbeth this autumn. The aspiring young actors, aged just 8 to 15, come from Belfast and further afield and include two young sisters from Castlewellan, Co Down.
Three of the boys – Anthony Briers, Liam Rowan and James Wright – take turns to play the son of one of the key characters, Macduff, and even have lines in the Shakespeare classic.
The other children have crucial roles to play in the haunting, psychological thriller that has been packing out the theatre since before Hallowe’en.
The child actors are sisters Adrienne and Emily Black from Castlewellan; Kian Wilson from Crossgar; Odhran Cassidy from Lurgan; James Wright from Holywood; Aaron Lynch from Poleglass; Roma Bannon, Cillian Burns and Maria Johnston from south Belfast; Anthony Briers from north Belfast and Liam Rowan and Hannah Poor from east Belfast.
Eileen Black whose two daughters are in the play said they are enjoying the experience:
“They have been having a great time at the Lyric,” she said. “It is a bit unnerving when you hear them quoting Shakespeare around the house – you don’t expect that of a 10-year-old!”
Another actor's mum Rita Bannon said: “Roma is delighted to be on the stage in the new Lyric Theatre building. She was in the final show of the old Lyric as one of "The Munchkins" in the Wizard of Oz and even had the good fortune of meeting and having her photo taken with Liam Neeson.
“She is really enjoying her time in the Lyric and working with such a professional cast. As for us, the parents, our social life has taken quite a dip now that we are doing taxi service but it is such an opportunity for her we could not refuse.”
Richard Croxford, the Lyric's Artistic Director, said: “The children play a crucial part in the drama which is a difficult play for even a professional cast. We are delighted with their hard work and hope they are enjoying the experience of performing in Northern Ireland's only full-time producing theatre.”
The children play alongside top acting talent including Stuart Graham (Hunger, The Fall) who stars as Macbeth and Andrea Irvine (Five Minutes of Heaven) who plays his cunning wife, Lady Macbeth.
The Scottish general, Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Spurred on by his wife and consumed by ambition, he murders King Duncan and takes the throne for himself.
Haunted by his bloody deed and the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth becomes a tyrannical ruler as he is forced to commit more murders to protect himself. There follows a downward spiral into madness as the usurping couple find they cannot escape their doom.