by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in rep to 22 September 2001.
Runs 2 hours 5 minutes No interval.
Tickets 020 7401 9919/ 020 7316 4703.
Review Timothy Ramsden 31 July.
Tragedy scores more strongly on images than poetry in Southwark.
Tim Carroll’s production has been slaughtered like Macbeth’s victims. His mistake is performing in English.
The verse speaking is awkward, with words swallowed and rhythms mashed. There have been higher definition productions. Macbeth only faces one ghost at his feast; the actor and director are haunted by dozens.
With a language barrier visual strengths would emerge. When Macbeth and his wife meet she crashes her face passionately into his, then evades his kiss as she plans Duncan’s murder. Later, he withdraws from her kisses to plot killing Banquo.
Even the 1950s feel with Claire van Kampen’s jazz and the cast in formal evening wear has its point. Posh togs are as good as a false face at hiding what the false heart doth know, or covering up witches in the woodpile.
For those fed up with actors lurching under spattered stage blood, the stylised deaths (a stone dropped into a bucket) is a relief, creating tension especially as young Macduff watches his murderer hold a stone, dropping it eventually as the boy wails he has been killed.
Except it’s not a boy. Liam Brennan’s Macduff doubles as his own son. Seeing this strong character (the only Scots voice on stage) take on childhood vulnerability makes Macduff senior’s pain at the news of the murder unusually moving. So does seeing Lady Macbeth’s final madness acted on a seesaw, never attaining equilibrium.
There are limitations – Jasper Britton’s Macbeth is conscience-torn like an executive seduced into stealing company secrets. Fine, but later he’s like a weak character playing tough. Perhaps that’s the point. Macduff was always going to win; fate is not independent of human character. Yet, while Chu Omambala’s Malcolm is every inch a king, his triumph is undercut as the stage returns to its original layout. He’d better watch out.
Duncan/Doctor: Terry McGinity.
Malcolm: Chu Omambala.
Donalbain/Fleance: Mark Springer.
Captain/Weird Sister: Colin Hurley.
Macbeth: Jasper Britton.
Lady Macbeth: Eve Best.
Porter/Seyton/Weird Sister: Paul Chahidi.
Murderer/Angus: Jan Knightley.
Murderer/Lennox: Richard Attlee.
Banquo: Patrick Brennan.
Macduff: Liam Brennan.
Lady Macduff: Hilary Tones.
Ross: Jonathan Oliver.
Weird Sister: Liza Hayden.
Master of Play: Tim Carroll.
Master of Design: Laura Hopkins.
Master of Music: Claire van Kampen.
Master of Choreography: Sian Williams.