by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 12 October 2013.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 July.
A production for the Highlands – it has its peaks and troughs.
There are plenty of laughs in the Globe’s 2013 ‘Season of Plenty’. Roger Allam brings irony to The Tempest’s Prospero, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is par for the course. But Macbeth?
Porter apart – and Bette Bourne brings visually androgynous comedy to the role – the play’s a serious business, where notions of a tragic ‘flaw’ are subsumed in a complete takeover of the central character by evil.
Which could be presented through bitter comedy. But Things seem fitful and momentary in Eve Best’s production. There’s nothing cumulative about the comedy.
Nor about the evil. For decades productions have had the three Weird Sisters meeting again in scene after scene, as servants, murderers and others. Here they tweet the birdsong from the Globe’s heights as Duncan arrives – about the only moment of pure, natural openness. If the trio invade even it, things are dark.
But neither this nor their chucking handfuls of red petals come murder-time, is more than an isolated gesture.
Fortunately, there are other areas where the production rises from competent storytelling to create sharply-etched images of the Macbeths’ collapse. Samantha Spiro’s Lady Macbeth plans with calculation what they will do, but it’s soon clear the backlash inside her is far greater than anything she had calculated.
And Joseph Millson as Macbeth, physically imposing and thereby the more noticeable in his inner disintegration, despite a keenness that can devour the opening words of a speech conveys through silence the sense of splitting into separate, outer and inner beings – from the first reflection he’s clearly in a separate space from the men around him.
And his disappointment at Duncan naming his son to be heir to the throne, soon after the Witches prophesied so favourably for Macbeth, is palpable – it could hardly be less, seeing how Gawn Grainger’s enfeebled Duncan stretches the moment out.
The set’s a rentagloom medieval version of a wall which might harbour dodgy lock-ups. But music matters, from the opening war-drumming to the final, soulful string solo from one Witch which suggests that, for all the momentary laughs, history is a continuum of loss and lament.
Witch: Moyo Akandé, Jess Murphy, Cat Simmons.
Ross: Geoff Aymer.
Porter: Bette Bourne.
Macduff: Stuart Bowman.
Banquo: Billy Boyd.
Seyton: Jonathan Chambers.
Malcolm: Philip Cumbus.
Duncan: Gawn Granger.
Lennox: Harry Hepple.
Macbeth: Joseph Millson.
Donalbain/Fleance/Young Macduff/Boy: Colin Ryan.
Lady Macbeth: Samantha Spiro.
Lady Mac duff: Finty Williams.
King’s Guards: Marc Borthwick, Ed Pinker.
Director: Eve Best.
Designer: Mike Britton.
Composer: Olly Fox.
Musical Director: Phil Hopkins.
Choreographers: Siân Williams, Charlotte Broom.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Text associate: Gils Block.
Movement associate: Glynn
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Assistant director: Stella Powell-Jones.
Associate text: Ng Choon Ping.
Assistant text: Jamie Roca Allan.