Thursday 14 December 2023

Macbeth - Review

The Depot, Liverpool


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Godwin

Indira Varma and Ralph Fiennes

In a dynamic touring production Simon Godwin’s Macbeth offers a delicious take on one of Shakespeare’s most popular and bloody classics. Ralph Fiennes steps up to play the doomed Thane, bringing a refreshing degree of perception and vigour to Scotland’s legendary warrior. 

Godwin’s stage is mostly left uncluttered with an ingenious immersive style to the drama, allowing the audience to walk amongst a battle-ravaged set as a mise-en-scene. This minimalism works well, adding particular impact to the moment when on seeing Banquo’s ghost (fine work from Steffan Rhodri), real soup is spilled by Macbeth in his shock.

Indira Varma is Lady Macbeth and while she could perhaps have explored her wicked ambition with a hint more depth, she proved the perfect foil to her husband’s hesitation on contemplating regicide.

Among the witches Danielle Fiamanya stands out, with Ben Turner’s Macduff another powerful and heartbreaking performance. Turner’s grief on learning of the murder of Macduff’s wife and children is palpable, leading to a passionate and convincing sword fight with machetes as he and Macbeth battle to the story’s tragic conclusion. Credit too to designer Frankie Bradshaw, the blood and gore factor of this production is refreshingly high.

One of the nation’s most frequently performed tragedies, it has been easy in recent years for productions of Macbeth to lack emotional heft. This one delivers. If you’re lucky enough to have secured a ticket for its tour to Edinburgh, London and Washington DC in the new year you’re in for a treat.

Runs to 20 December and then on tour
Photo credit: Matt Humphrey

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