Macbeth, Trafalgar Studios, London. April 2013
Where to start with this one?
It should have been so good, in fact early reviews and talk were what encouraged Rebecca and I to squeeze this in to our schedules. I wonder if it was this buzz/hype that has left us feeling so ambivalent about this one?
The chance to see the Scottish Play with a predominantly Scottish cast from a director whose work we've previously liked - on paper is sounded perfect. If only it had lived up to it all for us.
Before we went I knew that it was going to be a bloody performance and it certainly lived up to that. I wouldn't be surprised to know that there was a nationwide shortage of Kensington Gore by the time the play closes! However it wasn't just blood as a bodily fluid that was represented on stage. I'm pretty sure that the original stage directions didn't include Macbeth throwing up on stage...
I'm struggling to find many positive things to say here. The production was dark - as in I couldn't see the actors a lot of the time. It was shouty - I'm sure that there are other ways to express emotions rather than raising the voice. It was incomprehensible at times - characters wore masks and then didn't enunciate. It was violent - so violent and gory that by the end it had lost all impact and was like a cartoon.
For me the biggest problem was the Scottish accents - rather than adding to the play they also seemed affected and overblown (despite that being the natural accent for several of the cast). All I could hear throughout the play was the exaggerated, comedic accents of Hamish and Dougal as voiced by Graeme Garden and Barry Crier.
All in all this wasn't an afternoon I enjoyed and at all. It felt all style and no substance and I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all. I'm sure that actors were very good but as I either couldn't hear them clearly because of the masks or because they were shouting I'll have to take other people's opinions on that!
I'm just hoping that I enjoy the version of Macbeth that the Globe are staging later on in the year...it is one of the classic Shakepeare plays after all!