Explore our Shakespeare Season

Explore our Shakespeare Season

This spring we invite you to indulge yourself in the work of William Shakespeare. Our Shakespeare Season offers theatre enthusiasts the opportunity to experience fresh retellings of classic stories from ‘The Bard of Avon’.

King Lear

For the first time in over 80 years we present King Lear. Shakespeare’s epic portrayal of human life is the centrepiece of our Shakespeare Season. King Lear was the first ever Shakespearian play staged at the Abbey Theatre in 1928 and revived in 1930. Both productions starred renowned Dublin actor, F.J. McCormick as King Lear.

80 years on, Owen Roe stars as the ageing monarch who decides to step down from his throne and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. Deceived by false promises and rejecting his one faithful daughter, Lear’s ambitious plan sets him on a relentless journey that threatens his family, his kingdom and himself.

Re-imagining this impressive story is acclaimed director Selina Cartmell. King Lear is Selina’s first production for the Abbey stage, having previously directed Only an Apple, Big Love and Woman and Scarecrow on the Peacock stage. The cast of 21 features some of Ireland’s finest actors including Lorcan Cranitch, Phelim Drew and Hugh O’Conor.

Shakespeare for all ages

As part of this season our Community and Education Department are delighted to introduce Shakespeare’s work to younger audiences. Two one man shows, written and performed by award-winning playwright and actor Tim Crouch, recreate the world of Shakespeare’s characters in a magical and engaging way.

I, Peaseblossom relives the magical story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream through the fevered nightmares of Shakespeare’s most neglected fairy. I, Malvolio reveals the rants of Shakespeare’s most pent-up steward, a man ‘notoriously wronged’ in the Twelfth Night. Playing on the Peacock stage, these two shows are ideal for young theatre goers and of course those of you who are young at heart!

To get a sneak peak of I, Malvolio, watch a trailer here.

The best of Irish independent theatre

As part of our commitment to support the best of Irish independent theatre, we will present Ouroboros Theatre Company’s Richard II on the Peacock stage in April. Under the direction of the company’s founding member Michael Barker Caven, actor Denis Conway draws us into a world of Machiavellian deceit.

Discover how the effects of power can have devastating consequences, in this fresh perspective on a classic tale. This is the first part of the company’s exploration of Shakespeare’s history plays.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see Shakespeare at your national theatre. Book now on www.abbeytheatre.ie or by calling our Box Office on (01) 87 87 222.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to explore Shakespeare at your national theatre. Book now on www.abbeytheatre.ie or by calling our Box Office on (01) 87 87 222.

Your Comments & Reviews


Wonderful production, congratulations to all the cast. Wish you could produce more Shakespeare, more often.
Very grateful for a warm theatre on a bitterly cold day.

Hi Oliver,

Sorry for the delay in getting your comment up, we have it there now. Thanks for taking the time to pass on your thoughts about King Lear, we do appreciate them all.

Abbey Theatre

Thank you for a riveting, spectacular performance last evening!  The Abbey’s production of King Lear is not to be missed.  From the stark but effective scenic design and highly effective lighting to the incredibly moving portrayal of the characters by this ensemble cast, this show is a gem.  The staging of the production is beautiful and insightful. The performances of Sean Campion, as the devoted Kent and Lorcan Cranitch, as Glouster were emotionally complex and astute. The highly physical and intense portrayal of Edgar by Aaron Monaghan was simply stunning. Finally, Owen Roe (Lear) moved me to laughter and tears with his brilliant and believable performance. Thank you to the entire production company for making my first visit to The Abbey so worthwhile and memorable.

Well, I was not after all allowed to ‘have my say’ (refer my recent message). It appears you only seek ecstatic, undiluted praise for ‘King Lear’. I congratulated and I included some criticism. And I was courteous. What’s the point of this platform?

Pure gold! I had the privilege of attending a preview and two matinees and would go again in a heartbeat! my 10 year old son placed it far above Skyfall, even above the Hobbit in 3D; high praise indeed! The Abbey, Selina Cartwell, choreographer, set design, production, make-up, costume.....everyone involved: TAKE A BOW!! I laughed and cried and clapped till my hands ached. The best three hours of theatre ever. Owen Roe is a brilliant Lear, Hugh O’Connor a tender well-interpreted Fool...Aaron Monaghan was outstanding as Edgar as was Ciarán MacMenamin as Edmund.....all the daughters played their parts so well...I could go on.... Go see this production it is fantastic. Thank you Abbey et al.

There is no doubt that this is an amazing production, wonderful acting and great cast. However it was disappointing that on a cold wet Saturday afternoon, our National theatre does not offer a decent cup of coffee at the interval, plus a variety of snacks.  It was a long show so a nice coffee would have been appreciated, i.e. not out of a thermos, and luke warm.

Otherwise well done, a great afternoons entertainment.

Congratulations on a superb production.
I noticed a number of empty seats last night.
The Old Vic for example , as you probably know , do a special offer to sell off seats last minute/last half hour. Have you any similar plans. A full house also looks better for the actors!

Magnificent staging of ‘King Lear’, except for the steel poles! (I attended on February 28th, in the third row.) Owen Roe no surprise, as am a great fan. The naturally clearest speaker: Seán Campion; the opposite, I’m afraid: Lorcan Cranitch. The signature eye-gouging scene ("Out, vile jelly!") disappointing, as the act of mutilation was too fast and lacked the necessary horrific realism. Liked Hugh O’Conor. Thanks to all!

An outstanding performance from Owen Rowe in the title role makes this an unmissable production. He grows into the role as the play progresses, balancing the lunatic rants of Lear with the King’s more tender moments. The rest of the cast are solid enough, particular mention goes to the actress playing Reagan and Lorcan Cranitch as Gloucester. The set is a bit over elaborate. There’s no real need for an upper level. The direction of the first scene was a bit strange. I don’t know why Lear’s daughters (especially Cordelia) make their speeches to the audience rather than to Lear. But overall a very fine production well worth seeing.

Amid so many fine performances, I am especially grateful for Sean Campion and Hugh O’Conor, who play my two favourite characters, the Fool and Kent. These two are the antidote to the evil Regan and Goneril, played brilliantly by Caoilfhionn Dunne and Tina Kellegher.

Sean Campion portrays Kent’s unflinching honesty and devotion with such frank directness and naturalness that I can’t imagine the part played to better effect. Hugh O’Conor’s Fool does an amazing job of balancing anger and frustration with anguish and love.

I am sensitive to anachronism and so was disappointed at some of the production choices that introduced elements out of keeping with the setting. These were distractions for me. However, above all else I am grateful to the Abbey for this production.

This production was excellent and the choreography was inspirational. It added such dynamic to the play, although a bit rushed in places.  The set was superb! However, my one criticism is that with the exception of Owen Roe, Sean Champion, Beth Cooke and John Kavanagh, all the other actors were deficient in their enunciation and consequently many words, while sufficiently loud, could not be clearly heard. it was as though they did not trust the words and these are the elements which convey direct meaning and all the actor has to do is let them be heard distinctly. Perhaps it could be addressed immediately as it is such a challenging and wonderful production!

I really enjoyed the Abbey production of King Lear last night. The play was fast paced and there was a wonderful sense of events moving parallel to each other.This was achieved by the brilliant stage set. The actors were superb and I enjoyed the language which became completely natural. Magnificent stuff. Will definitely go to the other Shakespeare productions. Well done

This is a wonderful production. The acting is superb throughout and the stagecraft,music,lighting and choreography are all brilliant. Owen Rose as lear and Campion as Kent with Aaron Monaghan as Edgar are powerful in their performances.
This production sustains it’s drama from start to finish.

Hugh O’Conor resisted the temptation to overplay his role as the fool.  Instead, he gave a beautifully understated performance spilling his pearls of wisdom with a nonchalance belying their value.

As for the dogs - how gorgeous were they - and how fitting a nod to the motif of the Abbey itself? 3/3

Fri 8 Feb 2013.  I have just returned from the preview of King Lear. I thought this was an excellent production with a very powerful and most moving King Lear from Owen Roe! Other performances that stood out for me were Cordelia, the Fool and Gloucester and, of course, John Kavanagh. Having studied this play years ago in school, it was wonderful to see it brought to life in such a meaningful way and with such a fantastic cast. Thank you very much!

I hugely enjoyed King Lear last night-wonderful production and acting. I have a few reservations about the production.
I disagree with the use of the wolf hounds-unfair to the dogs and superfluous to the plot.
The white chairs were very odd in design terms-the costumes generally looked medieval-the white chairs were they imitation Rococo?
The wheel chair was out of place-why was Lear not placed on a litter and carried onstage?
The background music was intrusive in places and seemed out of period on several occasions.


Michael Kelly

I cannot wait to see King Lear at the Abbey next month. It is one of my most favourite Shakespeare plays. I have not seen it live on stage so i am really looking forward to seeing the Abbey’s production of this iconic work.

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