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Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe

Published 24 June 2016

What’s it all about?

The Scottish Play – oh, alright then, “Macbeth” (*turns around three times*) – is Shakespeare’s crowning tragedy, centring on the rise and fall of a Scottish warrior as he succumbs to life’s greatest temptation: tangible but terrible ambition.

Following a supernatural prophecy by malevolent forces – and the encouragement of his wife – Macbeth ascends to the throne through the slaughter of his King and kinsmen. But thence onrushes the price of his greed, as conscience takes its toll and bloody revenge is sought.

Who’s in it?

Ray Fearon is the eponymous nobleman-cum-king, striding across the boards with a grace and boldness to match his character’s murderous intentions. But it is the corroding influence of co-star Tara Fitzgerald, whose sly and often coy portrayal of Lady Macbeth niggles away at Fearon, who steals the stage with an alluring but vicious fervour.  

Pathetic fallacy it may be, but the elements more than played their part in contributing to an excitingly atmospheric opening night. Nothing quite says “dreary death-ridden Scottish battlefield” like a little ‘light’ London drizzle seeping in the open-top venue, particularly when nodded to by the cast (“the night has been unruly”).

What should I look out for?

The seamless integration of music with the overriding rhythm of the text. From beating drums of brutal warfare to the ethereal eeriness of floating voices in harmony, the majesty of many scenes is wonderfully imposing and, when intertwined with the rich and billowing sound of a musical quartet and the rhythm of Macbeth’s pensive asides, captivating.

Majestic design and effects in scenes involving the supernatural, particularly the Weird Sisters and at the post-coronation banquet, all expertly and resourcefully conceived and visualised by Khan and his cast.

The porter’s monologue. Renowned as a monologue laden with comic opportunity, here Nadia Albina brilliantly grasps her moment in the spotlight with hilarious physicality and references to the Tube, referendums and, of course, Donald Trump.

In a nutshell?

This Scottish Play promises a prosperous reign at the Globe thanks to its adroit conception, inventive design and sharp direction.

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Will I like it?

A production inherently steeped in dark themes, Director Iqbal Khan’s take is richly atmospheric but, fundamentally, enjoyable, frequently opting to play itself as a piece of entertainment rather than one of shocking brutality.

It’s an intriguing and bold take which is sure to appeal far and wide to audiences seeking a slice of the ‘wonder’ Artistic Director Emma Rice promises from the Globe’s season. Regardless, therefore, of your prior experience of the Bard, this Macbeth is, like its namesake, certainly worth a stab in the dark.

Macbeth plays at Shakespeare’s Globe until 1 October. You can book tickets through the venue’s website. 

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