Macbeth

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Previewed 9 February 2013, Opened 19 February 2013, Closed 27 April 2013 at the Trafalgar Studios in London

A major revival of William Shakespeare's Macbeth in London starring James McAvoy and directed by Jamie Lloyd.

An anatomy of the relationship between ambition and corruption, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's most bloody and fear-filled tragedies. James McAvoy plays 'Macbeth', the man who murders king and comrade in his quest for the crown, only to lose it all.

The cast for this production of Macbeth in London features James McAvoy as 'Macbeth' along with Claire Foy as 'Lady Macbeth', Jamie Ballard as 'Macduff' and Forbes Masson as 'Banquo'. The production is directed by Jamie Lloyd with designs by Soutra Gilmour. Please note - this production of Macbeth is recommended for audience members of age 14 and upwards as it contains some scenes of a violent nature.

James McAvoy in Macbeth is the inaugural production in a season of work for Trafalgar Transformed which will see the theatre slightly re-configured, with the front rows of the stalls removed, the staged pushed nearer and additional seating around the rear of the stage. Also half of the seats on Monday evenings will be reserved at special prices for schools and first-time theatregoers through a special outreach programme.

"According to a silly superstition, the merest mention of the M-word - Macbeth - in a theatre tempts fate, courtesy of Shakespeare's witches still casting spells to create stage havoc. Thesps get over it by referring to 'The Scottish Play'. Jamie Lloyd's revival goes further and treats it as such, with every character sounding like a variation of George Galloway apart from Hugh Ross's gentle Duncan, the King of Scotland, who, like the very poshest of Scots, speaks perfect Received Pronunciation English... Seldom has a production been as gory as this. Indeed, it rains blood in the final fight, during which Macbeth is overcome, and there's another smothering, bloody downpour when a triumphant Macduff holds Macbeth's freshly severed head above his own. McAvoy plays Macbeth as the action-man famous for ripping his enemies 'from the nave to the chops' with his trusty machete. Flushed by his success in battle, he allows the idea of becoming king to go to his head, egged on by Claire Foy's gutsy and girlish Lady Macbeth... McAvoy aside, this hit-and-miss production generally overdoes the sound and fury but nevertheless makes a promising start for Jamie Lloyd's new venture, Trafalgar Transformed, a season of political plays." The Mail on Sunday

"Directors who strive too hard for 'relevance' often make themselves appear mildly preposterous, and there were unsurprising giggles on Tuesday night as three witches, wearing gas masks, got things underway by pulling the tab on a distress flare that emitted plumes of acrid scarlet smoke into the auditorium. If I often wasn't sure what Jamie Lloyd was trying to say, a lot of the members of the cast of this resolutely Scottish version of "the Scottish play", are equally indecipherable, with accents that would mystify even Rab C Nesbitt. For all that, James McAvoy, in the title role, just gets on with the acting and puts in a performance of mesmerising intensity. Claire Foy, too, is magnificently sinister as Lady Macbeth. These are stylish and assured turns in a gawky and pubescent production." The Sunday Telegraph

"The tragedy's rhythm can be challenging - a hurtle towards murder and a long trudge to death - and Jamie Lloyd's production alternately rushes or shudders to a standstill. James McAvoy's performance is full of ideas. He's ready to leap up when Duncan announces his successor, like a cocky Oscar nomi­nee, but ambition sits on him like a dodgy curry. The moments before murder find him puking into a dirty loo. Later, when Macbeth demands prophecies from the witches, he retches up their words from his own guilty gut... But in a broken world, can we care who ends up on top? Honestly, I didn't much. Some deft performances emerge among the witches in gas masks and the Hallowe'en killers: Forbes Masson's fleering Banquo and Jamie Ballard's Macduff, a quiet man in unquiet times. Soutra Gilmour and Lloyd add intimacy to this unlovely venue, creating a tight traverse stage and placing the audience on two sides. It suits a play that is about doubtful equivocation: I only wish I wasn't in two minds about it." The Sunday Times

Macbeth in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 9 February 2013, opened on 19 February 2013 and closed on 27 April 2013.


Patrick Stewart in Macbeth 2007

Previewed 24 September 2007, Opened 26 September 2007, Closed 1 December 2007 at the Gielgud Theatre in London

Transferring from the Chichester Festival Theatre, Rupert Goold's revival of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth in London starring Patrick Stewart in the title role.

Shakespeare's dark political thriller. Patrick Stewart plays 'Macbeth', the man who murders king and comrade in his quest for the crown, only to lose it all. The cast also features Kate Fleetwood as 'Lady Macbeth' with Michael Feast as 'Macduff', Michael Turner as 'Banquo' and Tim Treloar as 'Ross', it is directed by Rupert Goold with designs by Anthony Ward and music by Adam Cork. This production was originally seen at The Chichester Festival Theatre where is played a critically acclaimed sell-out three month season this summer.

"There is barely a longueur in Goold's three-hour production, which is almost indecently packed with inspired ideas. In Anthony Ward's superbly disconcerting design almost all the action is set in some hellish subterranean kitchen, into which the actors frequently make their entrances by a sinister service lift with clanking metal doors... The production, inspired by both the Stalinist terror and Orwell's 1984, shows how Macbeth builds a tyranny of fear in which surveillance, torture and random killings are routine. With its frequent use of video, Adam Cork's deeply unsettling electronic score, and constant jolting coups de theatre, the play owes a debt to both classic film noir and Quentin Tarantino... Patrick Stewart recognises that the tragedy of Macbeth is that he always understood the consequences of killing and in the later scenes, in his beautifully delivered soliloquies, he shows a man who realises he has rendered his life meaningless by his actions." The Daily Telegraph

"This extraordinary production by Rupert Goold... Patrick Stewart might seem a little old for Macbeth, yet the age difference between him and Kate Fleetwood's unnerving Lady Macbeth makes emotional sense of a play that can feel as though there's a missing link as a result of cutting... Goold has managed to retain the suffocating sense of evil that he brought to Chichester on the wider plains of the West End stage. It is set in a kind of nether-world kitchen-cum-abattoir with a lift that creepily descends, bringing people into the hero's fatal orbit. Stewart speaks the verse with great rhythmic sensitivity... It's a noble production that dignifies the West End and everyone associated with it." The Independent

"Transferring a play is a tricky business. But in its move from the Minerva Chichester to the refurbished Gielgud, Rupert Goold's spellbinding Macbeth has lost none of its visceral excitement, political resonance or textual clarity... Directorial inventiveness is also matched by brilliant acting. Patrick Stewart's Macbeth starts as a reflective soldier who pauses before using the word 'murder', and develops into an insecure monster whose most chilling tactic is a dangerous levity. Stewart has done nothing finer, and he is superbly partnered by Kate Fleetwood's Lady M, whose capacity to imagine dashing out her child's brains is an index of a deeply disturbed mind... A traditionally difficult play is magnificently realised." The Guardian

Macbeth in London at the Gielgud Theatre previewed from 24 September 2007, opened on 26 September 2007 and closed on 1 December 2007.


Royal Shakespeare Company's Macbeth 2005

Previewed 10 February 2005, Opened 16 February 2005, Closed 5 March 2005 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London

The Royal Shakespeare Company present's William Shakespeare's Macbeth with Greg Hicks as 'Macbeth' and directed by Dominic Cooke.

Unnatural forces feed the Macbeths' dark ambition in Shakespeare's savage thriller. Macbeth and Banquo, generals in the service of Duncan, King of Scotland, are returning victorious from battle when they are hailed by three witches who offer a prophesy. The first part of the prophesy is soon fulfilled and encouraged by this, and playing on her husband's ambition, Lady Macbeth persuades him to murder Duncan while he is a guest at their castle.

The cast for this production of Macbeth in London features Greg Hicks as 'Macbeth' and Sian Thomas as 'Lady Macbeth' with Clive Wood as 'Macduff', Louis Hilyer as 'Banquo', Pal Aron as 'Malcolm' and Richard Cordery as 'Duncan'. It is directed by Dominic Cooke with set designs by Robert Innes Hopkins, costumes by Tania Spooner, lighting by Peter Mumford and music by Gary Yershon. This production was originally seen at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon were it played in repertory from March to October 2004.

"Seldom can the traffic of Shakespeare's stage have moved faster than this... But Macbeth has always worked best as a fast-paced thriller, and as the production which launches new RSC boss Michael Boyd's ambition to get back to a semi-permanent ensemble company, it flows smoothly enough, despite one or two problems in the casting. The main one is that in the title role Greg Hicks is thoughtful but surprisingly lightweight... But Hicks grows in stature as he crumbles in kingship, so that by the final battle he is indeed powerful enough... At worst, the production is somewhat un-involving, lacking in the requisite black magic, but it drives its way through with immense power while showcasing what this new company can achieve as a whole. In that sense, it is in stark contrast to the starrier RSC shows of recent years, where the supporting cast was just that. Now they are themselves the stars, and that of course is what the RSC was always meant to be about." The Daily Express

"Greg Hicks is a hugely gifted actor, and among his gifts is a fine and at times over-fine speaking voice. Unlike many in this sloppy age, he is superb at consonants. The problem is vowels, which are apt melodically to throb, even to echo... His is an upstanding, articulate Macbeth who signals blank dismay at the murder he half-willingly commits and looks all sweaty and devastated as he sardonically trudges towards his denouement. But his dark visceral parts aren't involved in the equation. Sian Thomas fares better as a Lady Macbeth who is, as she should be, superficially tough hut shattered by her growing isolation and her man's escalating ruthlessness." The Times

The RSC present Macbeth in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 10 February 2005, opened on 16 February 2005 and closed on 5 March 2005.


Sean Bean in Macbeth 2002

Previewed 7 November 2002, Opened 14 November 2002, Closed 1 March 2003 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London (was named Albery Theatre)

Edward Hall's directs a major revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth in London featuring Sean Bean as 'Macbeth' and Samantha Bond as 'Lady Macbeth' along with Julian Glover as 'Duncan' and Mark Bazeley as 'Macduff'. Directed by Edward Hall

"Sean Bean's Macbeth is every toned inch the fearless rugged soldier who could, as one of his captains vividly describes, unseam an enemy 'from the nave to the chops' and then stick the head on the battlements, all without turning a hair. In Edward Hall's production, he is clearly also the kind of chap who comes home to the missus with only one thing on his mind. Indeed, Bean's 'eeh by gum' northern Macbeth is much more of a squaddie than a general or a feudal lord. A good thing then that Samantha Bond's sexy, gorgeous, superb Lady M knows exactly how to handle her none-too-sophisticated man... The relationship between the Macbeths is, of course, one of the keys to Shakespeare's play and Hall gets it absolutely right. But there's more to it than that. This is a study of evil, of the corrupting effects of ambition, of the scary power of the supernatural and the terrors one's conscience can inflict. However, in its exploration of these themes, Hall's oddly old-fashioned, clunky production is barely more than adequate. On the plus side, I liked the addition of the coronation scene, all sacred music and Macbeth looking very ill at ease in his crown... But elsewhere it fails the test of any production of this play, which is to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. There's nothing remotely chilling about Hall's weird sisters... In the production's most unconvincing scene they coil themselves around a bare-chested Macbeth with all the mechanical seduction skills of low-grade porn-stars. Bean's one-note delivery of the verse doesn't help. It irons out the emotion as well as the music and rarely offers the tiniest glimpse of his tortured soul. His 'tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' speech vaguely smacks of resignation and weariness rather than deeply felt nihilism and despair. Disappointing." The Mail on Sunday

"No other Shakespeare play relies so much on the silences and tensions in and behind the words; but both Sean Bean and Samantha Bond speak their lines with the same clear, hard-driven vigour, innocent of colour, terror and the black panic of the soul that drives the play. It is as if Edward Hall had got the production to the point of efficiency and then moved no further... In the end, you do not really care for Macbeth: he is only a big, surly man in a foul temper. Bond comes up with a harrowing sleepwalking scene, but it is not prepared for properly. Julian Glover's King Duncan, rocklike but kindly, is the only piece of real Shakespearian acting in sight." The Sunday Times

Macbeth in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 7 November 2002, opened on 14 November 2002 and closed on 1 March 2003


Rufus Sewell in Macbeth 1999

Previewed 24 February 1999, Opened 3 March 1999, Closed 5 June 1999 at the Queen's Theatre in London

Regarded by many to be Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, the play has the same resonance for today's audience as when it was first performed. Macbeth reminds us that the aphrodisiac of power is as potent today as it has ever been. His vaulting ambition engages him to ignore his conscience until he discovers too late that like most human beings, panic sleeps in the inlighted corner of his soul.

The cast features Rufus Sewell in the title role with Sally Dexter as 'Lady Macbeth'. Directed by John Crowley.

"All hail to this bold, brave project in the West End: a commercial production of the gory poetic shocker in which a young war hero and his tipsy queen bludgeon their way to the throne of blood and fall apart at the marital seams. Rufus Sewell and Sally Dexter are the criminal couple, and they are tremendous. Sewell's romantic good looks are matched by a parched, expressive voice. Once the killing starts, he sees daggers and visions at all corners, jumps at all noise, drifts away from his wife. Unusually, this monster has a musical soul and speaks accordingly. Meanwhile Miss Dexter's buxom Lady M hits the booze, turns rigid in a mauve gown at the banquet and finally retreats to her consoling fantasies in the dark castle at Dunsinane. This progress, with the mention of a lost baby opening painful emotional sores, is beautifully charted in John Crowley's production, which is full of sighs, rumbling, a creaking drawbridge and giant shadows... The second half splutters a little. But the magic outweighs the misery. Mr Crowley is particularly good at eliding the scenes with a cross fade technique." The Daily Mail

Macbeth in London at the Queen's Theatre previewed from 24 February 1999, opened on 3 March 1999 and closed on 5 June 1999