This hotly anticipated take on Shakespeare's tragedy from National Theatre boss Rufus Norris stars Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff as the gruesome twosome - the friend-killers, the king-killers, the child-killers – the Macbeths.
Now, “the Scottish play” is one of my favourite plays and I'll go and see any tom, dick or Hamish version of it. So I knew I'd enjoy this version, right? Especially with the dream-team behind this one. But did I love it?
Well, sort of. Rory Kinnear's Macbeth is great. Of course. He's a great actor. His slow descent into madness following his bloody ambicide, regicide, and infanticide was gripping to witness. And Anne-Marie Duff is also a corker of an actor. She can play any part with ease. Her Lady Macbeth was sly, compelling and evil. And the rest of ensemble too were good – the three witches jumping about as they talked backwards, Macduff raging like a bear at the loss of his family, and lots of other bellows from lots of other fellows. No, you couldn't fault the cast.
And the production looked fine - granted the rather dated post-apocalyptic grunge look meant it came across more as a low-life Glasgow estate than Highland Royal Estate - but still, it worked. And the plastic dolls and doll's masks were especially affective.
No, it was the set itself I had a slightly harder time with. There was so much of it! The Olivier is a very big stage but boy did they fill it with stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. And some of it very noisy stuff too. Massive swinging walkways, tall swaying poles, spinning rooms, tumbling chairs, trestling tables and trundling trolleys. It was just all so noisy when it all rattled about. At times I struggled to hear the words of the actors’ despite being in a front of house row F.
But then this was a first performance so maybe these minor set niggles of set noise will soon be resolved as the previews progress.
So, a great show then – just in need of a few production tweaks during previews.
As I say I've seen quite a few Macbeth productions over the years. But where would I place this one in the list? Let's say this… it’s better than James McAvoy's gore-splattered Trafalgar Studios effort steered by Jamie Lloyd in 2013 but not quite up there with Patrick Stewart's sublime Gielgud Theatre triumph under Rupert Goold back in 2010.