Considered by many critics to be the best version of Macbeth they have ever seen, maverick director Rupert Goold’s inspired production set the action in a 1940’s Stalinist tyranny and starred Patrick Stewart as the doomed Macbeth. First seen at Chichester then subsequently in the West End and on Broadway this dark violent production recreated the sense of shock and supernatural horror that Shakespeare’ s audience would have felt when watching the play. Goold referenced everything from gothic horror, to Orwell’s 1984, to film Noir and Quentin Tarrantino.
This production was famed for its ingenuity and the sheer amount of ideas thrown at the classic text. The witches became field hospital nurses killing the victims of battle rather than curing them they later become Macbeth’s sinister household staff. In a stroke of genius the banquet seen is played twice over either side of the interval once from the terrified perspective of Macbeth and once from the farcical perspective of the dinner guests.
Anthony Ward’s white tiled basement set suggested at once an abattoir, hospital, kitchen torture chamber or morgue and was reached by a double grid lift. The production had a Soviet feel and the costumes were very militaristic. The witches apparitions were contained within body bags, Banquo assassinated on a busy train and Lady Macbeth tries to wash her hands under a tap that spurts blood. The white tiles also allowed the shows frequently employed powerful projections to be clearly visible.
Although it was set in more modern times the production stuck to Shakespeare’s original text.
Cast and Creative
Macbeth – Patrick Stewart
Lady Macbeth – Kate Fleetwood
Macduff – Michael Feast
Malcom – Scot Handy
Banquo – Martin Turner
Duncan/ A Scottish Doctor – Paul Shelley
Witch/Gentlewoman – Polly Frame
Witch – Niamh McGrady
Witch – Laura Rees
Ross – Tim Treloar
Lennox – Mark Rawlings
Angus – Bill Nash
Lady Macduff – Suzanne Burden
Porter/Seyton – Christopher Patrick Nolan
Donalbain/Young Seyward – Ben Carpenter
Old Seyward/Murderer – Christopher Knott
Bloody Sergeant – Hywel John
Lady Macbeth’s Servant – Oliver Birch
Director Rupert Goold
Music and Sound Designer Adam Cork
Designer Anthony Ward
Lighting Designer Howard Harrison
Video and Projection Designer Lorna Heavey
Fight Director Georgina Lamb
Fight Director Terry King
Charles Spencer “It makes almost every other show in London seem tame and audiences will surely fall upon it with relish.There is barely a longueur in Goold’s three-hour production, which is almost indecently packed with inspired ideas…. seeing Goold’s thrilling staging for the second time I remain convinced that this is the greatest production of Macbeth I have ever seen.”