sun 26/05/2024

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe | reviews, news & interviews

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe

Eve Best makes a strong directorial debut

Joseph Millson is a virile Macbeth in Eve Best's debut as a directorEllie Kurttz

This is the directorial debut of Eve Best, better known as a talented classical and comedic actress, who was last at Shakespeare's Globe appearing as Beatrice in a superb Much Ado About Nothing opposite Charles Edwards's Benedick.

Best's reading of the Scottish play - her favourite Shakespeare - is pleasingly straightforward and she introduces few thrills and spills (and there's a minimalist Birnam Wood in Mike Britton's simple but elegant design), nor a big idea that imposes itself on the text without illuminating it. This is a production that allows the actors to breathe – and pleasant to watch it is, with excellent verse-speaking and interplay – and one that elicits much laughter throughout the evening, some of it in the most unexpected places. The ghost scene, for example, is played almost entirely for laughs.

It's in Jacobean dress, but Best introduces some modern touches in the music (with a score by Olly Fox). The evening starts with a stirring drum-and-pipes number performed by the entire cast, and ends with a Scottish lament played on a fiddle by one of the Witches. The soundscape provides some eerie moments, and Best uses the theatre's galleries and Groundlings space to great effect.

Millson brings a real physicality to Macbeth, sometimes at the cost of his inner turmoil

Working with a deft directorial hand, she lays out the murderous couple's motivations straight away. Joseph Millson's Macbeth is a virile soldier returning from war as a hero, and he is matched in dangerous ambition by Samantha Spiro's icily cold Lady Macbeth. When she says of their lost child: “I would.... have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out,” you have no doubt she would have done precisely that.

The first act is a little underpowered, but after the interval things move apace and the two meeting scenes – Macbeth with the three Witches and Malcolm with Macduff - have real impact. The Witches - Moyo Akandé, Jess Murphy and Cat Simmons - are all superb, if not at all scary, and Philip Cumbus neatly portrays Malcolm's development from callow youth to wise king as he tests Macduff's honour by describing himself as a bigger monster than Macbeth.

Millson brings a real physicality to Macbeth, sometimes at the cost of showing us his inner turmoil – his “mad” scene, for example, switches too readily from his fear at seeing Billy Boyd's Banquo to throwaway lines for the audience's amusement - but his “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech, delivered downstage almost among the rapt audience, was heart-stoppingly moving.

Spiro gives a strong reading of Lady Macbeth with a memorably convincing "mad" episode, while there's solid support from Stuart Bowman as a passionate Macduff and Finty Williams as his hard-nosed wife.

  • Macbeth is in repertoire at Shakespeare's Globe, London SE1 until 13 October
Working with a deft directorial hand, Best lays out the murderous couple's motivations straight away


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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