Macbeth**** (Trafalgar Studios, 21 February 2013)

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Theatre

Not for the faint hearted nor possibly for Shakespeare traditionalists, this is a full on assault on the senses that barely lets up from start to finish. Performed in the round on a set that looks vaguely like a disused Glasgow warehouse, lights flash and thunderclaps echo, blood drenches the characters and covers the floor of the stage; there would be more peace and love at a Celtic/Rangers match. It is a bleak, dystopian vison that is not time specific, nor, despite a predominance of Scottish accents, is it place specific. 11th or 22nd century, Scotland or Syria, the human cost of tyrany is the same. James McAvoy plays Macbeth like a hyperactive brat, but is very strong in the second half when insanity begins to set in and he comes to realise the full cost of his murderous deeds. Claire Foy is a Lady Macbeth stripped of all regality, earthy and manipulative. There are many chilling scenes that will live long in the memory; in particular, the murder of MacDuff’s family is worthy of Hitchcock. In all, a striking interpretation of the play, but there is nothing wrong with exploring different takes on a classic provided the text is well served by them and they add clarity to the core themes. This production achieves those objectives emphatically.

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