Opening night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Rufus Norris’Macbeth is dark, compelling and visually stunning. A long civil war has raged and now anarchy rules as the fight to survive in a place where the stench of fear and rebellion fills the air.
Designer Rae Smith has created an epic and imposing set which acts as the perfect backdrop for this gloriously gritty production. Critics were harsh when the production opened on the Southbank earlier this year and this reworked offering recast for the touring production has taken note of that with tweaks and changes ensuring Macbeth engages from the off.
Michael Nardone is an excellent Macbeth, his glee at the witches prophecies exposing his vanity as he chases his predicted outcome with obsessive compulsion. He portrays the conscious stricken rugged warrior with much skill, one minute the goading warrior the next a crumbling man haunted by the horrors of the night.
Stirring and strong is Kirsty Besterman’s Lady Macbeth, calculating and cold she gives her all to the performance and convinces entirely as the ambitious and ruthless purveyor of power.
The three witches are hauntingly brilliant, phantom-like and gruesome as they thrust and twist high above the stage on poles, kudos to Elizabeth Chan, Evelyn Roberts and Olivia Sweeny for their delivery of these deeply physical roles.
Deka Walmsley adds depths in his role as the Porter, offering forewarning and commentary as Macbeth’s murderous acts escalate.
There is some chopping down of the text which does at times move the action on a little quicker than expected losing some of the depth of character in the early scenes however this is not done so ruthlessly to affect the essence of the story. We see less of the three witches than we should resulting in their influencing of the action stopping more or less at their opening prophecy. The cast however drive this atmospheric piece through their absorbing performances and prove that the human need for power is as ruthlessly cruel now as it was back in 1606 when Shakespeare first penned the Scottish play. While some may feel the battle feels more for a civil war than a Kingdom this for me resonated strongly and felt a timely reminder of the ever-present prosperity to attack we seem to be surrounded by today.
Gritty, gruesome and visually captivating theatre. Catch Macbeth at the Lowry until Saturday 6th October tickets available here.