Macbeth, Barbican Centre | Review


Macbeth

Barbican Centre
Reviewed on Thursday 25th October 2018 by Jake C Macpherson
★★★★

Having never experienced Shakespeare live before, but going into the RSC’s production of Macbeth knowledgeable in the complete story I was apprehensive in how it would be adapted and whether it would be brought up to date for a contemporary audience.

The production opens with the appearance of the witches - not typically imagined. Three young girls in matching red dresses. All of the witches are seen throughout in unusual and unpredicted parts of the play, but all play a vital part in delivering the horror thriller movie vibe that I believe designer Fly Davis and director Polly Findlay have envisioned. 

The set designed by Fly Davis was reimagined and interpreted to structure the psychological and mental aspect that was heavily heightened throughout the piece. The carpet was cleverly used on most of the stage to make the link of waiting rooms, quietness and rooms of power. 


Christopher Eccleston delivers a fresh and vulnerable Macbeth, one who is not afraid of the tasks he must achieve but is afraid of the hunger for power Lady Macbeth holds. Niamh Cusack is a strong-willed Lady Macbeth whose intentions are very clear from the outset. Cusack begins her character journey at a peak that only keeps on rising throughout. 

The Porter (Michael Hodgson)- eerily cemented at the back of the stage, intensifies the element of the psychological trauma Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are going through. For every death that takes place, a tally is struck against the black chalkboard at the back of the stage. Visually this works well. Hodgson is also able to captivate the audience and add some humour to the play which helps break up the trauma of it. 

After the death of Duncan (David Acton) an oversized LED timer begins to countdown from the centre of the stage; representing the fate that is yet to come and the fall of Macbeth and everything around him in such a short space of time. Although I found this element a little distracting at points, I feel that the time element did add another level of interest and eeriness to the show.


However, after the intense build up to the end climax I found that it didn’t really go anywhere. The timer strikes zero mid fight and Macbeth is quickly killed, it gave the clear impression that it had been rushed and made me wonder whether the timer could have been re-worked. It added to the piece as a whole but left me leaving wondering whether it was worth it. 

Overall it is a beautiful re-telling of Macbeth, keeping true to the script but taking a twist on a unique element. Macbeth at the Barbican is not to be missed. 

Macbeth runs at the Barbican until 18th January 2019.

For tickets and information about the show, visit https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk



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