In recent years Saoirse Ronan has established herself as a leading lady in film. Some notable highlights include her Oscar nominated roles such as Jo March in Little Women, Christine in Lady Bird and Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn. But does her lack of stage work make her casting as Lady Macbeth concerning?
Absolutely not. There are many actresses who are well known for their Shakespeare stage-work. The likes of Tamsin Greig and Jessie Buckley in National Theatre’s recent televised production of Romeo and Juliet, and older generations of actresses such as Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judi Dench.
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Despite this being Ronan’s first foray into Shakespeare (professionally) her back-catalogue promises a rage that we know Lady Macbeth to encapsulate. Her Broadway stage debut in the 2016 production of The Crucible was met with critical acclaim, a play similar in its depiction of women and witchcraft and set in a similar period.
Truly, Lady Macbeth is an iconic role: the ultimate leading-lady with much to uncover in her background and the decision to create a feminist version of the play is certainly interesting. Contemporary perceptions of Lady Macbeth differ; was she a witch, enchanting Macbeth? Was she truly responsible for his madness? Is she the ultimate antagonist of the play? All of these questions about the character will surely fuel the feminist theme of the upcoming adaptation, opening at the Almeida Theatre in September 2021.
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Ronan’s Oscar-nominated roles prepare her well for this role – from the rage of Christine in Lady Bird, the driven nature of Jo March in Little Women, although remarkably different to Lady Macbeth (less murder, more adolescent anger), they prove that Ronan’s sure-hold on complicated, multi-layered female roles will aid her in one of the most famous and arguably beloved roles in theatre history.
The reception to this casting has been one of praise. As one of our most iconic and celebrated actresses of our generation, billing Saoirse Ronan is always a sure success. This is no exception.