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

The First Night Feature: Macbeth

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 16 October 2009

"When shall we three meet again?" In a kind of Stalinist Russia, actually, in Rupert Goold's Chichester Festival Theatre production of Macbeth, which opened at the Gielgud last night. The production sees Goold and leading man Patrick Stewart once more team up on a Shakespearean production following the success of The Tempest, at the Novello. Matthew Amer joined the first night audience to watch the toil and trouble.

Goold is a director who seems to have a magic touch for relocating Shakespeare; while his Tempest was given new life by its arctic tundra staging, so setting Macbeth in an Eastern bloc dictatorship, circa WWI, lends a touch of paranoia to those around the eponymous antihero when people who stand in the soldier's way start to be disposed of.

A tale of greed in every sense – Stewart's Macbeth eats anything he can lay his hands on during the production, even snatching food away from the hungry Fleance – the seed of an idea, and its cultivation by an ambitious Lady Macbeth, leads the central protagonist into a reign of slaughter.

All is played out against the dirty, grimy, white brick walls of Anthony Ward's set, a seemingly subterranean bunker that is as unappealing as standing in Macbeth's way.

The weird sisters, the harbingers of Macbeth's doom, are sisters in two senses for Goold's production; nightmarish Florence Nightingales appearing in a battlefield hospital at the play's opening, before reappearing in a morgue and preparing the meat for Macbeth's feast. Death surrounds their every turn, and the echo of their voices, the unnatural electricity of their movement and rumbling bass that often accompanies them create a truly terrifying trio.

In Stewart we see a man haunted by his actions yet unafraid to get his hands dirty. His growing belief in fate, and the often-present sisters, leads to a sense of invulnerability and then an acceptance of what must happen. Kate Fleetwood, as the often devious Lady Macbeth, delivers a more straightforward, clear thinking, brazen wife, who, once she has set out her plan, will see nothing stand in its way. Her calls to 'unsex me' are delivered without a hint of remorse or foreboding.

To give away all Goold's secrets would be to diminish the effect of the production, yet there are more than enough theatrical treats and tweaks to invest Shakespeare’s words with a new energy. em>MA


Sign up

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.