The Abbey's misfortune is the Gate's opportunity. While the national theatre has been foundering since the start of the millennium, its younger, sassier rival has gone from strength to strength. The year 2006 was triumphant, opening with Ralph Fiennes and Ian McDiarmuid in Friel's classic The Faith Healer, then moving seamlessly into a Beckett season - showcasing John Hurt, Michael Gambon and Barry McGovern - to celebrate the writer's centenary. And the staging in 2008 of Pinter's No Man's Land (also featuring Gambon, alongside David Walliams) was a similarly glittering success. The Gate's director, Michael Colgan, runs a shrewd operation, mixing international stars with local greats in quality productions that have theatregoers queuing for returns. He's helped by having the most elegant, spacious theatre in the city (which was being further improved with the construction of a new €5.2 million wing at the time of writing) and by a rambunctious, cosmopolitan legacy. The Gate was founded in 1928 by the flamboyant, legendary, homosexual duo Hilton Edwards and Micheál MacLiammóir (both English, MacLiammóir gaelicised his name), who for 40 years fed an eager public with an uncompromising diet of avant-garde experimental Irish and international plays. That cosmopolitan legacy allows Colgan to cast his net wide, unlike the poor Abbey, which, as the 'national theatre', seems to be condemned to unadulterated Irish fare.