Macbeth, Loft Theatre, Leamington
A SENSE of rushing headlong into catastrophe as fatal error follows fatal error lies at the heart of David Fletcher’s strong setting of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy.
There can’t be many plays in the Shakespeare canon which contain more famous lines, oft-quoted speeches and phrases which have found their way into everyday speech. Presenting the events of the play, and the thought processes behind those happenings, is a struggle to keep fresh but this production manages perfectly.
Those bringing school parties to experience the Bard on the stage rather than the page will not be disappointed. There are a few innovations and the occasional omission, but on the whole this is a solid, non-tricksy rendering of the play which satisfies on all levels, and right from the start.
The witches find their way rapidly from the opening on the blasted heath to the battle camp and later, still as a trio, into the home of the Macbeth’s themselves. Whether as lowering presence or scheming spies, it’s a move that opens interesting possibilities.
A strong and well-balanced cast keep the pace up and the clarity of delivery in the poetry is as good as could be wished for.
Mark Crossley’s Macbeth is a study in a man’s gradual but irreversible descent into madness. The decision to embark on the first deadly deed is outwardly a tough one and contrasts sharply with a chilling subsequent indifference as the blood and the bodies continue to pile up. It’s a portrayal which sees Macbeth clearly going off the rails but not so far that he can’t appreciate his own part in the mess.
As Lady Macbeth Julie Godfrey captures perfectly the drive and impatient ambition pushing the pair to act in a way neither would probably do alone. The vulnerability beneath the traditional steely exterior is also there, particularly in a genuinely moving sleepwalking scene.
They are a believable, fallible couple well-matched together and powerful apart. The production has excellent support wherever the action turns. Peter Daly-Dickson as Macduff, Elaine Freeborn’s joyously earthy porter and Mark Roberts as Lennox all catch the eye.
Amy Carroll’s design is bold and open, a range of wooden platforms serving as battlements, banqueting hall and any number of undulating battlefields.
There’s a lot to like in this production. It doesn’t risk a great deal but in playing it straight we get a solid, wholly fulfilling presentation of a classic.