Internationally renowned theatre designer Jean-Guy Lecat has transformed the auditorium of this, the nation's premier theatre. Where there used to be a balcony there is now elegantly sloping seating, with no awkward corners left for bad sightlines and dodgy sound. And while plans for its move to Docklands have been finalised, the actual realities of transposing the Abbey to its new location were, at the time of writing, far from looming on the horizon. For the time being at least, the Abbey will remain in its original historic setting.
Established by WB Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904 to further the nationalist cause, the theatre opened to glorious controversy - Synge's Playboy of the Western World (1907) and O'Casey's Plough and the Stars (1926) were considered so shocking in conservative Dublin (in particular Synge's use of the word 'shift' to mean knickers) that they were met with riots. Contemporary playwrights would kill for that kind of publicity, but unfortunately things haven't been so exciting since: the Abbey still gets loads of column inches but mostly from people railing against its creative mire - 'Abbey-bashing' is a favourite national pastime, and very tedious it is too. For talk of a more constructive nature, check out the regular programme of Abbey Talks (in which guest speakers reflect on everything from the role of a national theatre to interpreting The Brothers Karamazov).