REVIEW: Macbeth, Crucible

Macbeth, Crucible
Macbeth, Crucible
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THERE are pushy wives... and then there is Lady Macbeth. There’s ambition in the workplace - but then there’s Macbeth’s ill-advised embracing of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Shakespeare’s spell-tinted Scottish tragedy of murderous love and bloody betrayal is in great hands with Daniel Evans directing an honest, often raw in-the-round examination of a Bard favourite.

Richard Kent’s frugal and cunning stage design, David Plater’s succinct lighting and Richard Taylor’s unsettling sound combine for compelling location and ethereal malevolence, and lend stark vulnerability to a passion-fuelled couple manipulated by each other’s strengths and failings as well as those eye of newt-wielding witches.

Geoffrey Streatfeild returns after a powerful Copenhagen performance with a suitably ambivalent Macbeth. Though early he lacks the macho poise expected of a hero warrior – maybe by design to accentuate his touchable side - he peaks as an increasingly paranoid, guilt-tainted soul. The consequences of his violent pact eat away at him, frequently manifested as horror-filled stares.

Claudie Blakley shines as his devoted wife, her presence swiftly exceeding a demure frame as her warped lust for advancement contrives their downfall. Her intense journey from backbone to insanity is potent and convincing in the face of Shakespeare’s tall demand for us to accept Macbeth’s collosal leap from loyalty to treason.

The brilliant feasting scene in which Macbeth is pursued by the truly terrifying ghost of David Ganly’s gallant Banquo confirms their descent, the most generously-propped element of the piece witness to the Macbeths’ advancing and brutal emotional meltdown.

A magnificent Andrew Jarvis provides further dimension as Duncan/Old Man, although his stalwart presence serves to accentuate the weakness of stage son Malcolm, an underwhelming Joseph Drake. John Dougall’s Bard pedigree roars again, as Macduff, while Christopher Logan deserves mention for a seven-role shift ranging from a gory Bleeding Captain to comic Porter.

With so many of Shakespeare’s most vivid and satisfying lines and a setting that favours focus on psychological fissures over frills, this marvellous Macbeth deserves to stay until October 6.