Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Rufus Norris
The National Theatre continues its work with the Wolverhampton Grand and other regional venues across the country to bring a unique new staging of one of Shakespeare’s most recognisable tragedies.
This bold imagining by the National Theatre’s Artistic Director Rufus Norris is a shortened down, slick performance with a unique focus on the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. This interpretation and focus works very well towards the end of the performance but isn’t something that is so prominent from the start.
The dangers of the post-apocalyptic world that this is set in are shown from the start with a dramatic fight scene containing a beheading which Rae Smith’s huge wooden bridge cleverly conceals. Using knives in this world instead of swords not only works better in the setting but also holds a ghostly echo to the troubles that the streets today face.
Smith’s set is one of the highlights of the production. The garish black drapes cover the stage, while concrete walls swoop in from the back of the stage to create rooms complete with discarded furniture. This is far from the riches and royalties of Scotland and more like a place controlled by a brutish tribe.
Sound Designer Paul Arditti creates some clever atmospheric music that can get the pulse racing in parts. This, alongside similarly eerie lighting by Paul Pyant, creates another layer that builds tension and compliments the performance.
Michael Nardone’s Macbeth is far from the brave warrior that many have portrayed before him and more like a worn down, tired man who quickly struggles with the crimes he commits. Nardone’s connection with Kirsty Besterman’s Lady Macbeth is clearly one of the main focusses on the piece, from the sexual chemistry at the start to the intimate moments in Act Two. Norris’ direction in the closing moments of the play emphasises how important Lady Macbeth is to his future success and makes his downfall particularly poignant.
In order for this to flourish the central themes needed to be more present throughout for this to all piece together. However, this new production by the National Theatre contains a valiant attempt at creating something unique and in the most part, it works well and makes it a stimulating watch.
*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £29.50 + £3.00 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating