Macbeth at Shakespeare’s Globe
This is not overly gruesome, but a dark and shadowy production of Macbeth. The Globe can be seen through industrial elements, cage-like lights obscuring the pillars, which creates a modern gothic and mechanical atmosphere. There is no fake blood in this production, or gruesomely accurate dismembered heads and other body parts, there are of course props but they rely on the audience’s imagination. A simple black sheet is used effectively to hide the bodies and recreate Macbeth’s banquet hallucination. Yesterday’s English weather helped to create the dark atmosphere, raining non-stop for the entire production, while Jocelyn Pook’s Celtic warrior score, complete with throat singing, draws the whole production together combining mysticism, darkness and warrior bloodlust.
Director Iqbal Khan’s decision to cast a black Macbeth and numerous women in male roles at least demonstrates that the production seeks to bring together a company of diverse people from different backgrounds, an affront to the increasing spirit of racism and xenophobia emerging in the UK. Ray Fearon’s Macbeth is a powerful presence on stage, who equally combines this fierceness with some level of tenderness. Tara Fitzgerald draws on the different shades of Lady Macbeth’s character, managing to make the sleepwalking scene humorous at points. Her Lady Macbeth has the intellectual fierceness of a leader but also a childlike unpredictability. More light relief comes in the form of Nadia Albina’s Porter; she improvises around the text making the Shakespeare current, wittily drawing on current affairs such as the EU referendum and Donald Trump, while Jacob Fortune-Lloyd’s Macduff impeccably switches between charmingly interacting with the audience one second and the next brutally threatening Macbeth.
If anything, this production reinforces the fact that life and history are a “moving shadow”. Iqbal Khan’s play has come at a flammable time politically, the power struggles of Macbeth’s day will keep repeating themselves. The shadows of different ages and power struggles are mixed together simply through the choice of costume: Macbeth is dressed in warrior garments, whilst Malcolm wears World War One-style outfits. This adaptation resonates viscerally, it is a different wonder to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it is more of a wonder at how low a man can go to achieve what he wants and remain a man. This is a refreshing production of Macbeth, certainly worth a watch.
Photo: Alastair Muir
Macbeth is on at Shakespeare’s Globe from 18th June until 1st October 2016, for further information or to book visit here.