THEATRE REVIEW | Macbeth, Birmingham Rep28th January 2016
When a story is often told, there is a risk of it getting old, however, with Carrie Cracknell and Lucy Guerin’s Macbeth told the same story but through a completely new lens. It was Stargate meets Resident Evil bent of Macbeth. It had moving chambers and symbols that lit up, just like in the pyramids of the former film, and it had the underground facility feel of Resident Evil, with dim lights, almost appearing like they were trapped in the sewers. ★★★★
Having watched Macbeth the film starring Michael Fassbender, expectations were always going to be high. With this production, you just didn’t know what you were going to get, which made it so much more exciting, and John Heffernan’s Macbeth was his own, and it was genius.
The marvel that was the set made the show start before the actors had even walked on, as the tunnel type design, by Lizzie Clachan, let your mind loose imagining what would be happening first. The set is worthy of stealing all awards for a production’s visual masterpiece.
When the show did start, and through to the end there were no disappointments with the visual of this Macbeth, as every scene was coloured differently with physicality that was otherworldly. Particularly the witches of Macbeth, played by Ana Beatriz Meireles, Jessie Oshodi and Clemmie Sveaas, who stunned the senses with their movement, voice and visual shapes they created as an instrument of telling the story. I was glad to see them throughout the performance.
John Heffernan owned the show with his careful, precise, yet troubled portrayal of Macbeth, where the transitions of the character were strategic and well thought out. There were no exaggerations or contrivance, and there were plenty of shades of Macbeth oozing out of Heffernan, and I particularly loved the end where his last soliloquy was quiet and understated, giving it more a solid effect, as it drew people in to listen.
Unfortunately, Anna Maxwell Martin’s Lady Macbeth was not on the same level. The way she spoke was too quick, making it hard to understand what she was saying, and also overly predictable with presenting herself as mad throughout, not showing much depth to the character. The mad scene became expected and obvious.
Overall, a stunning visual and an outstanding version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that needs to be seen all over the country and beyond.
Macbeth plays at The Birmingham Rep until 30th January, 0121 236 4455