“If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly”
There’s something a little ironic about NYT’s assurance that this is the “only West End showing of Macbeth this autumn” when I will have seen 3 productions of the Scottish play this month. Sure, the muddy paths of Clapham Common and the dusty hall of the London Welsh Centre might fall a little short of the shabby chic of the Ambassadors Theatre but it is a clear indication of the enduring popularity of this programming choice which forms one third of a rep season which also includes Private Peaceful and a modern telling of Dorian Gray in Selfie.
And sure enough, Ed Hughes’ concise adaptation offers up the best of the bunch for the season, the bold thematic vision working well and releasing the play from any dusty RP connotations. From the outset as Grace Chilton borrows the spirit of Alan Cumming’s iconic Emcee to the haunting presence of Lady Macbeth’s ghost during a key moment, Hughes’ liberating attitude (he also directs) makes this a rapid-fire success which pays its own tribute to the WWI anniversary as well as crackling with youthful energy.
Jeremy Neumark Jones’ Macbeth has a wonderful stillness about him which suggests the complexity of his internal monologue as much as the words and Sophie Dyke contrasts strongly as his wife, vivid green party dresses no replacement for the child she wants so much. Dominic Grove’s bearded Duncan has his own charisma too which makes him an ideal leader for his Prussian-inspired army – the spareness of James Button’s design allowing a real focus on the playful but powerful reshaping of character. Go at once.