Spectacular: Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Dock X, London

Shakespeare’s play that may not be named goes large — in a warehouse! Thrillingly staged, although the somewhat battered stage is minimalist, the thrills and spectacle are full maximalist. There are vents of steam, explosions, strobe lighting — like lightning; a walk-through immersive semi-war zone with an oil drum alight with fire, blocks of scattered crumbling concrete and a wheel-less wreck of a car. Even better there are Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma as the power hungry wannabe Thane and his murderous wife.

Wonderfully this made Shakespeare fresh again, whilst maintaining perfect diction. Ralph Fiennes felt stilted compared to Indira Varma to begin with — but clearly he had a plan, start small and suddenly go large. His increasingly aspiring ruler was both arrogant (feeling he could not be defeated) and tormented. Indira Varma as Lady Macbeth was magnificent, and suddenly fragile and vulnerable when pushed aside by her ghost-spotting husband. Intriguingly Lady Macbeth was the driving force, pushing her husband into secrecy (and a quick clean-up) when the deed was done and the knocking on the doors began.

What this production did particularly well was to make small scenes fire up with life again — such as between Macduff (Ben Turner) and Malcolm (Ewan Black), or in Macduff’s weeping over the loss of his family. The stage fighting was stirring and excellently done. Wonderful too was the battle of Birnham Wood coming through the audience, giving added drama to the deception. Steffan Rhodri was a wonderful Banquo — horribly murdered and then appearing in ghostly form at the table — and on the stairs, amongst the audience. The witches three were sinister, watching and waiting — and suggesting futures (Lucy Mangan, Lola Shalam, Danielle Fiamanya), with Lucy Mangan being a stand-out. Pitiful too were the stunningly performed children of Macduff — killed before our very eyes. The child actors brought naturalism and poignancy to their appearances on stage.

The staging was equally dramatic — suddenly we were plunged into darkness; at other points sound overheard suggested a battlefield as ‘soldiers’ watched over the stage. Actors such as the witches appeared around the room and made their way down the stairs. Then there was an explosion!

Bringing back Jacobean spectacle in all its gory sensation.

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Cultures: Arts Reviews and Views by Susan Tailby

By Susan Tailby. Appreciator of arts and culture; things I've seen and enjoyed and you might too! Reviews all my own opinion....Theatre, Movies, Dance & Art!