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David Morrissey's Macbeth - theatre review

Kevin Bourke is well impressed by the Scottish play - the old Everyman's last

Published on May 13th 2011.

David Morrissey's Macbeth - theatre review

YOU could reasonably observe that the pressure was on for the Everyman with this production.

Not only is it the last in-house show in the present building but it’s also one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, starring a big-name, homecoming actor who hasn’t done theatre for quite a while. 

Oh, and there’s also the not-inconsiderable problem of having to replace your leading lady with less than a month to go before the first night....

The good news is that Gemma Bodinetz’ Macbeth lives up to expectations. The better news is that it’s one of the most dynamic and haunting versions of Macbeth to come along for a long time.

This is a marvellously full-blooded
production that both honours the
Everyman’s impressive history
and points the way towards an
even more promising future

This is a production that will live in the memories of those lucky enough to see it for longer, I suspect, than it takes for the Everyman to rise again in its ritzy new building in 2013.

With a quite brilliant set designed by Francis O’Connor, this is a production set in a dark world turned upside down by war, where paranoia and fear stalk the land. Naked ambition, tyranny, insanity and unhinged malevolence rule, as storms and weird happenings sweep the characters along.

Macbeth_Julia Ford as Lady Macbeth #2 %26#169%3B Helen Warner.jpgAt the centre of all this is Macbeth himself, played by David Morrissey, bravely returning his roots after beginning his career at the Everyman Youth Theatre and emerging as part of that eighties generation of Everyman talent that also included Cathy Tyson, Mark McGann, and Ian Hart.

His Macbeth is a muscular and dynamic figure, fascinated and appalled by the weird sisters and their prediction of his rise and fall but whose descent into brutality truly comes from something deeper and darker inside himself.

Taking on the unenviable task of replacing Jemma Redgrave as Lady Macbeth at the last minute, Julia Ford is also terrific. She may know her husband better than he does himself, ruthlessly pushing him to murder Duncan and thus precipitate the blood-letting that follows, but she doesn’t, it seems, truly know herself. Her descent into self-harming, regretful madness is subtly drawn, before the headlong horrors of the second half.

The pair of them are surrounded by first-rate work from the likes of Ken Bradshaw as Banquo and Matthew Flynn as Macduff, while the appearances of the three witches (Gillian Kearney, Nathan McMullen and Eileen O’Brien) which can sometimes seem rather silly to contemporary audiences are, however unlikely it may sound, highlights of this outstanding, timeless production.

It’s not completely flawless - the costume design seems somewhat pointless and irritating, particularly in the context of the wonderful set, lighting and sound - but, overall, this is a marvellously full-blooded production that both honours the Everyman’s impressive history and points the way towards an even more promising future.

Macbeth_Gillian Kearney and Nathan McMullen %26#169%3B Helen Warner.jpgYou can get a glimpse of that future at a series of tours and  talks, starting on Friday May 13 at 5pm and continuing until June 30. The official closing date for the Everyman will be Saturday July 2 and the company are now working with Slung Low, with whom they collaborated on last year’s ‘Anthology’ of seven stories performed on and around Hope Street, to create a special finale celebration of the Everyman past, present and future.


*Macbeth is at the Everyman until June 11. 0151 709 4776. www.everymanplayhouse.com.

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AnonymousMay 14th 2011.

Not sure I agree with Macbeth being dressed like a tramp.

Dianne DeesMay 18th 2011.

Looking forward to this but they only had single tickets left. Is there a plan to extend it?

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