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By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
This production features strong language, physical abuse and violence.
Review: Macbeth at The RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre
“A dark brooding tale of anger and power struggles”
Set in a world of Scottish lords, Kings, Queens and those who wish to topple them, the Scottish Play takes its turn at the RSC’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre. This production brings in Ruben Joseph for his RSC debut as Macbeth featuring a company largely made up of actors also making their RSC debut. Not that you’d know this from the strong performances last night.
Ruben Joseph’s depiction of a man haunted by his actions and wishes is excellent, he owns the stage with every step he takes on it. Alison Peebles steals every second she is on the stage as The Porter, Seyton bringing moments which punch us out of the heavy story and into a totally different world. Accent-wise, I felt the accents were fairly realistic and varied reflecting Scottish accents. I’m not able to say how authentic they were, but Ruben Joseph‘s was certainly great to listen to.
This is a very heavy story about witches, murder and obsession. Uncomfortable winds and rain remind us of the unflinching lands in remote parts of Scotland. The running time of over three hours including a twenty-minute interval is pretty lengthy and not for novice theatregoers.
The costumes made me think that someone had discovered a Digbeth 90s retro clothes store and gone wild, with tracksuit bottoms with pop buttons, heeled trainers and sleeveless jackets. The three-sided set makes the rear of the stage seem like a hidden character as the action moves back and forth, and the lighting is pretty haunting. The production makes full use of the space at hand, including some great ariel work for the trio of witches.
The dialogue is beautiful and just great to listen to, many lines are recognisable out of context so it is thrilling to see them used. There is music from onstage brass musicians, which together with pipes (Bagpipes to you and me), give a melancholy feel to proceedings.
I knew very little about this story going into the theatre, apart from the dark themes to be covered, so it was great to see it with fresh eyes.
A dark brooding tale of anger and power struggles, Macbeth is at The RSC’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre until 14th October 2023. Book tickets here: rsc.org.uk/macbeth.