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Referred to by some as “the Scottish Play” or “the Bard’s play”. It is one of William Shakespeare’s best known tragedies, is barbaric, bloodthirsty, and not for the faint-hearted. Macbeth is an intensely gripping tale of one man’s perceived destiny, and will have you on the edge of your seat right up until its breathtaking and bloody conclusion.
“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble!”
Returning victoriously from battle, fighting for King Duncan, Macbeth comes across a coven of witches, and after hearing their prophesy, he learns how he will gain the crown himself, but also how he might lose it. Well, all good prophesies as we know are lined with riddles which are open to misinterpretation, and so Macbeth is sure to be the victim of his own folly no matter what he does or who he kills, to try to retain his throne. Lady Macbeth, herself with a desire for power, fuels her husband’s paranoia, but becomes overwhelmed with guilt and finally despair. Written in the early 1600’s, Shakespeare’s story touches on the supernatural while blending it with the power of subconscious desire, the main driving forces behind Macbeth’s wicked deeds leading to his eventual downfall.
“Come, let me clutch thee! I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.”
Douglas Rintoul directs an able ensemble who mesmerise during every scene, perhaps more so because all is performed on a minimal set that is dark and brooding. There is clever use of lighting on silhouette figures behind white plastic strips, depicting moments of fierce battle and death. The fury of the fighting is intensified by their slow motion contortions as swords clash and blood is let, spattering the strips of plastic. A smokey ethereal mist prevails throughout, even appearing to frame the characters during several powerful scenes. There is sprinkling of humour too, even a surprise knock-knock joke, providing a little light relief.
“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…”
Paul Tinto’s Macbeth, at one point his hands covered with blood, gives an unsettling performance of a man consumed by paranoia and murderous intent, while Phoebe Sparrow as Lady Macbeth, very convincingly portrays a woman driven to despair by her own guilt. Danielle Kassarate is also wonderful to watch. Her powerful stage presence as Lady Macduff, and also as a witch, is truly inspiring.
If it is your first time viewing the works of probably the worlds greatest playwright and poet, here is a good place to start. The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Derby Theatre production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is of a very high standard. It runs until 29th February.
Ros Connors – Gateway Drivetime
All photos (c) Copyright: Mark Sepple
The Queen’s Theatre is in Billet Lane, Hornchurch.
Tickets are available at queens-theatre.co.uk
The box office number is 01708 443333.