This was my first Shakespeare play, so from my point of view I was interested to know how I would react to a play by Britain’s greatest playwright.
The play opens with what looks like a scene from an SAS raid, with
actors dressed in modern army uniforms. This was followed by the
scene of the witches, which was quite scary. My reaction was that I
was in for something different tonight and I was not wrong.
The Royal Exchange, uniquely in the round, created an atmosphere
of intrigue and suspicion. The star in the centre of the stage looked
like something from the king Arthur’s Round Table, but this
innocuous sight in the centre of the stage was set to be a focal point
of the play.
This production was quite different with the gender reversal of
Macbeth being played by the superb Lucy Ellinson, I have to mention the interaction between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth played by the equally superb Ony Uhira.
Not being over familiar with Shakespeare’s plays, I must admit it took
me a little while to get into it. But Shakespearean language was clear
and was easily understood to a novice of Shakespeare such as myself.
A huge thing that struck me was that the play is so relevant and how Shakespeare was so ahead of his time.
There was interaction with the audience at various stages of the play which
increases the feeling that you are part of the play itself and this leads
to more engagement from the audience, although at times this can
be a little bit scary.
Macbeth decides to hold a banquet to try and cement her
grip on power. The staging of the banquet was so clever, with the
characters resembling something of a cross between the Mad
Hatter’s Tea Party and the Lion King. I won’t spoil it too much, but as I said earlier, the medieval star in the centre of the stage plays an intriguing role in this and other parts of
The final scene involving Macbeth being hung upside down
had to be cut short after safety concerns for Lucy Ellinson from the
technicians, who rushed in to stop the show. It is a credit to the
technicians at the Royal Exchange and a reminder to us all that there
are many productions throughout the UK that push the boundaries
to deliver the public cutting edge performances.
I have singled out a few cast members, which is always
difficult but I have to mention that the whole cast deserve credit for
delivering a superb performance that a novice like me can follow and
enjoy, this is a must see play for anyone who thinks that a
Shakespearean play is not for them.
The play runs until the 19 th October 2019 – enjoy!
Written By Martin Griffin