BordGáisEnergyTheatre,Dublin.Ends Jan192.30pm&7.30pm¤25-¤55 bordgaisenergytheatre.ie Some people are born villains, some have villainy thrust upon them, and then there are a much more select cohort, who know just how awful the idea of evil really is, and go ahead and choose it anyway. That, roughly, is the tragedy of Macbeth, one of Shakespeare’s most morally conflicted yet still rather enthusiastic wrong-doers. Macbeth, it is worth remembering, may come under malign influence, first by witchly prophecies, and soon by his ruthlessly ambitious worser half, Lady Macbeth. But he makes his own choice nonetheless, early and rashly, and with regicidal blood on his hands must live with the consequences.
To stage it in Britain now, as the National Theatre in London did last year, is to invite comparisons to another moment of fateful decision and awful consequences. The theatre’s director Rufus Norris may set his interpretation in a post-apocalyptic landscape, spurred by environmental warnings and inspired by contemporary societies riven by civil war and internal strife. But it doesn’t take a political psychologist to imagine it all as a projection of Brexit anxieties, where malign influences, briskly alternating rulers and a bitterly divided country have resulted in another chaotic upheaval. In reality, of course, Brexit is closer to a tragi-comedy, a parade of buffoonery and mendacity. There’s a little of that in Macbeth, of course, but far loftier expressions, and finally a return to order. Even now, Macbeth has plenty to teach us.