EERIE RAIL TALE IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE THEATRE -

A gloomy rail­way cut­ting lead­ing to an omi­nous tun­nel, de­scribed as hav­ing a ‘bar­barous, de­press­ing and for­bid­ding’ air is the set­ting for the Charles Dick­ens short story, The

Sig­nal­man (New The­atre, until De­cem­ber 15). Con­sid­er­ing the re­stricted stage space, this ex­cel­lent pro­duc­tion, de­signed by Lisa Krugel, does a great job of cap­tur­ing the eerie at­mos­phere. A cu­ri­ous vis­i­tor de­scends into the cut­ting to talk to the lonely sig­nal­man on duty, who is haunted by a spec­tre that ap­pears to be a har­bin­ger of evil. Jane McCarthy, who adapted this for the stage, has given the vis­i­tor a stronger mo­ti­va­tion for his vis­its, that adds dra­matic strength to the orig­i­nal. It’s a story that needs a brood­ing air, and un­der Matthew Ralli’s di­rec­tion, Mar­cus Lamb and Daniel Rear­don com­bine beau­ti­fully to pro­vide con­trast­ing re­ac­tions to a men­ac­ing sit­u­a­tion.

Ir­ish Na­tional Opera Com­pany’s pro­duc­tion of Verdi’s Aida showed com­pre­hen­sively that it can han­dle grand opera in the grand­est style. Direc­tor Michael Bark­erCaven’s pro­duc­tion was su­perb, beau­ti­fully mounted, and brought out all the majesty in the score. On the night I at­tended, the two in­dis­posed lead singers, Orla Boy­lan and Gwyn Hughes Jones were re­placed by so­prano Mon­ica Zanet­tin and tenor Ste­fano La Colla. Zanet­tin per­formed as if the role had been writ­ten spe­cially for her and La Colla was to­tally con­vinc­ing as Radamès. Imelda Drumm came into her own in the fourth act as Am­neris.

gloom: Mar­cus Lambe and Daniel Rear­don

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