A formidable cast assembled this week for the start of rehearsals for Macbeth - the first Lyric production of Shakespeare on the Northern Bank Stage and the bard's bloodiest. The most popular of Shakespeare's tragedies, Macbeth combines the potent ingredients of witchcraft, royalty and jealous ambition in a psychological thriller that reaches a brutal climax.
Stuart Graham (Hunger, The Fall) takes on the role of the Scottish general, Macbeth who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. He is spurred on by his cunning wife, Lady Macbeth played by Andrea Irvine (Five Minutes of Heaven) 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.
Belfast-born Director Lynne Parker (Rough Magic Theatre Company) said Macbeth “is one of the greatest plays ever written”.
“Macbeth is an incredibly taut thriller that will have audiences on the edge of their seats,” Lynne said. “It is a territory haunted by angry, implacable ghosts, political ambition and superstition; a play that Northern Ireland can relish.”
She has employed an all-Northern Ireland cast and is keen to harness the Ulster accent with its closeness to the original intention of this famous Scottish play.
Talented young designer Diana Ennis has created an atmospheric set perched on a timeless coastal cliff-edge.
The witches are played with great wit and sophistication by Eleanor Methven, Carol Moore and Claire Rafferty. They complete the large cast which includes Michael Condron (The Boat Factory), Niall Cusack, Christopher Doyle, Darren Franklin, Paul Kennedy and Paul Mallon.
Gilly Campbell, Drama and Dance Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:
“The Lyric has provided an outstanding cultural programme over the past 40 years and has continued to generate some of the most groundbreaking and innovative theatre in its new state-of-the-art home. The trend is set to continue through Autumn–Winter 2012 with a diverse programme of performances that will appeal to all, from ardent theatre goers to young families alike. The Arts Council enjoys a strong partnership with the Lyric Theatre and we look forward to another exciting year ahead.”
Macbeth runs on the Northern Bank Stage from Thursday 25 October to Saturday 24 November (previews Sun 21 Oct, Tues 23 and Wed 24 Oct).