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John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre

The Abbey is very much selling Frank McGuinness’ adaptation of Henrik Ibsin’s John Gabriel Borkman as a timely piece of work. Set during a recession and focusing on a former banker who has managed to avoid squalor by assuring his property ends up in the hands of his sister-in-law (though she bought it at auction rather than the fact he assigned it to her), it is an easy enough sell in modern Ireland. However, the play’s themes are much more universal than that – it’s a story about our attempts to live vicariously through others and attempt to define ourselves contrary to whatever plans those around us might have, a reflection on how easily and readily we construct elaborate cages for ourselves (but cages that we insist are actually throne rooms). However, the main draw to this theatrical run – and perhaps the factor behind its near-constantly sold-out status – is a lead performance from Alan Rickman as the eponymous banker-turned-outcast.

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