Live On Stage Stage

Macbeth

Macbeth
14 November 2018
Barbican Theatre

3.5 out of 5.0 stars

Being in lockdown due to the corona virus pandemic, I thought I’d use the time to work on my backlog of shows I never got around to review back when I actually saw them. I just don’t always have the time to write reviews right away and sometimes they just fall into an eternal backlog that I am now striving to work through! I actually viewed this production on 14 November 2018 and am writing the review with my theatre notes written during and after the performance.

I was very excited to see this production of Macbeth, as I love seeing Christopher Eccleston on stage. And of course always enjoy seeing a new interpretation of a well known Shakespeare play, as there are so many ways these plays can be changed and presented without actually changing a single line.

I loved this production’s decision to cast young girls as the witches, giving a mischievous creepiness to the characters that I have not experienced with other productions before. Their nursery rimes and childishness elevated their parts to a different level, giving more depths to the characters and another level of horror-movie-esque feel to the play itself. A bold and brilliant decision in my opinion.

However, there was another big decision that was quite the opposite to me. The stage was dominated by a HUGE digital clock that was counting down throughout the play. Not only was it distracting and felt very out of place in the historical-feeling setting, it also didn’t end up lining up with the event it counted down to. I absolutely understand the intention of showing that a shift of power is inevitable and really just a reset for a limited time, but for this to actually work it has to be impeccably timed, which in our performance it was not. So it ended up being a distracting, anachronistic feeling, disappointing device dominating the stage for a vast part of the show.

Apart from that, it was a brilliant production with very strong performances and an undeniably dark edge to it, taking the play into the horror genre and beautifully constructing an underlying sense of dread throughout. Overacted at times, and overly dramatic at others, it still flowed well and showed a different interpretation of characters than I’ve seen before. I very much enjoyed that, though most of all, that damn clock will haunt me for a while!

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