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02 July 2013


Globe Theatre, London
Tuesday 2nd July 2013

This third Globe production of one of Shakespeare's most performed scripts takes direction from it's first Lady Macbeth, Eve Best, who marks her directorial debut with this unusual take on the dark Scottish play. 

Olly Fox's rousing composition underscores the opening and remains one of the best elements of the overall production.  With drumming to get the heart pounding and a final fiddle solo that chills to the bone, the music in this piece inspires just the right tone of foreboding.

The direction overall looks hard for, and makes the most of, the moments for comic exploration in the piece.  The prolonged hysterics from Macbeth and Banquo at their first meeting with the Weird Sisters worked well; at this point the characters are without the relative burden of ambition for foreseen rewards.  However to still be exploiting laughs from the dinner table scene at the arrival of Banquo's ghost somewhat spoils the gravitas of that moment, and the poignancy of Macbeth's emotional and mental decline to that point.  Joseph Millson's Macbeth felt somewhat stilted by this unusual interpretation, his characterisation wide-eyed and frantic, seeming to lose control and letting his fate unravel by chance rather than through a focus of ambition.  His Lady Macbeth, the dynamo that is Samantha Spiro - so good at the Globe last year in The Taming of the Shrew - seemed ironically tame in comparison.  Servantile to her husband's frenzied plans, this could almost be an extension of her final compliant Katherine, reluctant and weak willed. 

There was some strong support in the thoroughly able cast, with Billy Boyd's heavily accented Banquo, Stuart Bowman's controlled Macduff and Philip Cumbus' studied Malcolm among the stand outs.  A lovely cameo too from Bette Bourne, making the most of the Porter and captivating the audience immediately. 

A production that could barely differ more from the gore-fest that was Lucy Bailey's exciting and shocking production of the same play at the Globe in 2010.  A relatively gentle telling that did little to elicit any excitement from me.

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