by William Shakespeare.
Barbican (Silk Street Theatre) To 10 April.
Mon-Sat 7.15pm Mat 2pm 3, 8, 10 April 4pm 5 April.
Captioned 30 March.
TICKETS: 0845 120 7550.
then Theatre Royal Brighton 11-15 May 2010.
7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 01273 709709.
Runs 2hr 5min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 24 March.
Fine detail for those who know the plot.
Some Shakespeare productions suit newcomers to the play. Others, like this from Cheek by Jowl and their founder-director Declan Donnellan, seem to presuppose foreknowledge of story and characters.
It’s as full of intelligent performances and original ideas as any Cheek by Jowl show. But played in near identical black clothing (costume seems too grand a term), on an empty stage, often lit though wooden slats along both sides, at a speed that has scenes flowing into each other, while being dispatched briskly (aided by a number of cuts in the script), it’s not one for telling a tale to newcomers.
Nick Ormerod’s sparse setting and Judith Greenwood’s harsh lighting match Donellan’s narrative economy. Perhaps it’s assumed anyone who snaps-up the company’s tickets will know all about Macbeth. And for those who do know what’s going on, the production’s full of insights. Its only failing – as in Donnellan’s earlier Macbeth – is the patronising Scottish Porter, here cleverly but vulgarly given a cramped lodge and, accordingly, a specific modern context.
Elsewhere, Donnellan’s ceaselessly inventive questioning makes for excitement and insight. No barnstorming entrance for Anastasia Hille’s Lady Macbeth. She speeds on excitedly (there are a lot of quick entries helping create a hectic pace throughout), speaking rapidly in a remarkably light voice.
This Lady Macbeth is no apprentice Hecate but a woman excited by the possibilities life has suddenly thrown-up. Her analysis of Will Keen’sMacbeth as someone who wants to achieve his goal but not use the necessary means, has never seemed so natural. This Lady Macbeth must have summed-up this difference in their characters from their early days together.
But now “supernatural soliciting”, which by itself has left him in two minds, is catalysed by her energy into excited near-determination, which leads to all that’s previously been hidden within him.
The bloody Sergeant seems to wound himself before finding his way at a run back to the camp with news of victory; nothing is what it seems. Duncan’s blindness harks back to a production commonplace of a generation ago. Elsewhere, all is new-minted, at a hectic pace of invention.
Macbeth: Will Keen.
Lady Macbeth: Anastasia Hille.
Macduff: David Caves.
Duncan/Scottish Doctor: David Collings.
Porter/Lady Macduff: Kelly Hotten.
Malcolm: Orlando James.
Banquo: Ryan Kiggell.
Thanes: Vincent Enderby, Jake Fairbrother, Nicholas Goode, Greg Kolpakchi, Edmund Wiseman.
Director: Declan Donnellan.
Designer: Nick Ormerod.
Lighting: Judith Greenwood.
Sound: Helen Atkinson.
Composer: Catherine Jayes.
Movement/Associate director: Jane Gibson.
Company Voice work: Patsy Rodenburg, Emma Woodvine.
Fight director: Jonathan Waller.
Assistant director: Owen Horsley.