Director: Polly Findlay
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Niamh Cusack, Luke Newberry, Raphael Sowole, Edward Bennett, David Acton, Mariam Haque
Seen on: 11.4.2018
[Here are my reviews of other takes on Macbeth.]
Macbeth (Christopher Eccleston) and Banquo (Raphael Sowole) just fought successfully for King Duncan (David Acton) and are finally on their way home. In the woods, they meet three witches who predict, among other things, that Macbeth will become King. Spurred on by that prophecy and uncontent to just wait for it to come true, Macbeth and his wife (Niamh Cusack) hatch the plan to help things along when Duncan comes to visit. But murder comes with moral consequences – and it might not be the only thing necessary to make Macbeth King.
This take on Macbeth is interesting and mostly well done, but it doesn’t work in all regards, ultimately turning out weaker than I had hoped and expected from Findlay.
The biggest problem of this production was their decision to put a countdown up on stage. Once things are really set in motion, a giant clock counts down to the climax of the story. And while I understand the idea to go with that and I find the accuracy in the production needed for it to work, the overall effect was absolutely counterproductive. It was like watching a microwave counting down the seconds until you can finally enjoy whatever you’re heating up. And as anybody who has ever done that knows: it makes every second feel at least three times as long. There’s a reason why the saying “a watched kettle never boils” exists. And when the play doesn’t, in fact, end with the countdown, it was pretty aggravating.
I also struggled with the Porter (a role I often forget is even part of Macbeth, although it’s not that unimportant or small) in the sense that I thought they’d overdone it with him. He just didn’t fit with the rest of the production. He felt like he dropped by from another play.
But Eccleston was a superb Macbeth and I very much liked Cusack as Lady Macbeth. A production usually hinges on the way the relationship between the two of them is portrayed and here it works very well.
I also liked the way the witches were shown – as three young girls in identical clothes. I mean, on the one hand the “creepy children” bit isn’t exactly new and as a horror standard it does become a little boring. But at the same time, they are a standard because they work. And I haven’t seen it yet in a Macbeth production, so overall, the witches definitely were a plus.
And yet, altogether the production just doesn’t get to where it needed to get to win me over.
Summarizing: not my favorite production, but it could definitely be worse.