Theatre travels
Tribes at the Royal Court

There will be no foolish wand waving in this theatre

Images-9 When the lovely, distinctive gravely voice of Stanley fav Prof Snape Alan Rickman reverberated around the stage of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin last night, I couldn't stifle a little grin and the urge to sit up straight.

I've loved Alan Rickman since Truly Madly Deeply. He stole the film as the evil Sheriff in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, then there was his turn as the slighted but warm-hearted Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility and I won't even mention that teaching role.

But this time he was John Gabriel Borkman in the eponymous play by Henrik Ibsen. The brooding disgraced banker, pacing his self-imposed cell and planning his come back while down stairs his estranged wife Gunhild (Fiona Shaw) plots her own return to respectability using their son Erhart (Marty Rea).

Set in a snowy landscape which serves to heighten the isolation and tension between husband and wife, a blast from the past in the form of Gunhild's twin sister and Borkman's former lover, Ella (Lindsay Duncan) visits with her own plans for Erhart.

John Gabriel Borkman is a tragedy brought about by delayed reaction. Gunhild and Borkman have become almost paralised by their own self-pity and when they do decide to act, their motives are poisoned by selfishness and ill-conceived.

Despite some top performances by Rickman and Duncan, in particularly, it never really feel like  you get under the skin of the characters to adequately engage. Borkman is grumpy and bitter, lashing out at old friends, Grunhild is full of hysterical hand-ringing to the point where you just want to yell 'run Erhart, run'.

Nonetheless it is a great production with lots of fake snow being swished around on stage by the fabulous period costumes and ultimately it was worth a trip to Ireland to see Mr Rickman.

I give it three stars out of five


Polyg is threatening to set up a scoring system by which to judge my 6DS efforts - she's a hard woman to impress - but even she admitted that this is going to be difficult to better with not one, but three first degree connections of the highest calibre.

First up is Mr Rickman himself, responsible for hanging, upside-down, the semi-naked little Ben and dunking him in a barrel of water in an attempt to extract a confession from him for killing his daughter in the film Perfume.

Then there is Lindsay Duncan who played the judge at Ben's (the character was also called Ben) murder trial in Criminal Justice.

And finally, the icing on the cake, John Gabriel Borkman director James MacDonald also directed Mr W in Cock at the Royal Court last year.

Thank you and good night.