facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
Macbeth at Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (c) Johan Persson

Paul Ready as Macbeth and Michelle Terry as Lady Macbeth at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (c) Johan Persson

Macbeth at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Eva Mason

By Eva Mason Published 20 November 2018

Shakespeare’s Globe kicks off their Winter season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse with the famously bloodthirsty tale of a Scottish king’s quest for power. Directed by Robert Hastie, the production stars Paul Ready in the title role, with Michelle Terry as Lady Macbeth. Here are some reasons to see this Shakespeare classic, which is running until 2 February 2019

Playing with fire

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is famously candlelit, giving the intimate venue an atmosphere that Shakespeare himself would be familiar with. The dramatic potency of a naked flame is effectively harnessed in this Macbeth, with fluctuations in flickering light – from a warm, blazing banquet scene to a single, feeble flame held close to our tragic antihero’s face as he confronts the ‘weird sisters’ – directing the audience’s attention and playing with your conception of the space. And the candles sometimes cause dramatic tension that has nothing to do with the plot – will Macbeth’s single candle be accidentally blown out during an impassioned monologue, plunging us into darkness!? (not during my visit, fortunately!)

The power couple

Paul Ready plays Macbeth alongside his real-life partner (and the Globe’s Artistic Director) Michelle Terry as Lady Macbeth. Both give grippingly intense, tortured performances, and the chemistry between them fizzes throughout – even allowing for a couple of moments of comic bickering which would almost make them a relatable couple – if not for their murderous plotting…

The music

Laura Moody’s score is performed by three female singers on a balcony above the stage, looking down on the action almost like echoes of the three witches. The music is sung in Enochian, the strange ‘angelic’ language invented by 16th-century astronomer, alchemist and occultist John Dee, and swings between eerie Medieval-style polyphony and earthier, folkish chanting and foot stamping. Occasionally the music gives way to whisperings and hissings, which – combined with disembodied creaks and knockings that seem to emanate from every side of the Playhouse – are slightly spine chilling.

The language

It probably goes without saying – it is Shakespeare after all – but the language of Macbeth is often shockingly vivid and contemporary, from Lady Macbeth’s rallying cry to her own ruthlessness as she plots a murder, to Macduff’s heart-breaking disbelief on hearing terrible news about his family’s fate – and even Macbeth’s famous ‘is this a dagger which I see before me?’ (delivered so compellingly by Ready that you almost forget you’ve heard the line hundreds of times before). This is a timelessly brutal play about murder, betrayal, family, poisonous ambition, paranoia and gnawing guilt, and the cast brings the 400-year-old script alive, with every word crystal clear.


Sign up

Macbeth michelle terry Paul Ready Robert Hastie Sam Wanamaker Playhouse Shakespeare Shakespeare's Globe

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.