NT’s Macbeth full of interesting ideas that sadly never quite gel – review


It has a stellar cast and plenty of ideas but this new staging of the Shakespearean classic falls far short of expectations.

Rufus Norris’ new production of Macbeth has a rather grim, startling opening; we see a character’s head being severed, placed in a bag and hung high up on Rae Smith’s impressive, oppressive set. More shocking than this, however, is that the violent tone never really lightens – while of course this play is one of the great tragedies, it’s a dark opening and the tone only gets gloomier throughout.

Bathed in a dim, post-apocalyptic half-light, the story plays out in a space frustratingly devoid of any sense of location or time; it is simply a desolate wasteland. It certainly had a look, and elements of the set design were technically impressive, but it wasn’t really obvious what the significance was. We weren’t quite sure on the costume ideas, either – was there a reason that armour was sellotaped on? – whereas some outfit metaphors just seemed a bit clunky or obvious.

Related: 120 BPM is an exhilarating and moving portrayal of a community galvanising during a crisis – review

Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff take on the leading roles – both fine actors, but their talents are not utilised to full effect here. They both have promising moments – Kinnear is initially believable as a decent man in a less-than-decent world, but his descent into madness amounts to little more than shouting and kicking some chairs; Duff is compelling to watch and, at times, genuinely seems to have a pained conscience. Yet neither really explore the depth or nuance of the duo, while the delivery of several significant – and hugely famous – soliloquies often feel lacking in gravitas.

There are a handful of enjoyable moments. We were impressed with some of the technical elements – the giant, sweeping ramp is rotated and used effectively throughout, while some buildings would twist and reveal a variety of nooks and crannies that an actor could contort their way out of. The sound design works well, too – it certainly adds to the overall bleakness. On a different note, Trevor Fox, as the Porter, offers some much-needed comic relief on occasion, with a few amusingly-delivered one-liners.

While this production of Macbeth may have some interesting ideas, they never seem to quite gel – it all just seems a bit incoherent. It’s a noisy and violent production that doesn’t seem to say very much – and while it would be harsh to describe it as full of sound and fury, signifying nothing… we were really hoping for so much more.

Gay Times gives Macbeth – ★★☆☆☆

More information can be found here.

Get your hands on our latest issue now!



These elderly lesbians have the best reactions to Hayley Kiyoko’s music

New Republican backed bill in Ohio is set to make things a lot harder for the state’s transgender youth

South African court sentences pastor who spread anti-LGBTQ hatred

Tan France reveals how doing Queer Eye has brought him closer to his family

Czech Republic government back a draft bill which would see same-sex marriage legalised

Early gay rights activist Dick Leitsch has died at the age of 83

Could you survive this Queer Eye drinking game?

Man sentenced to death by ‘homophobic’ jurors loses appeal in Supreme Court

Press enter to search