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Review: Macbeth, Theatre Royal Norwich

The National Theatre brings their new version of the Bard’s Scottish play to us, setting it in the brutal present day, post an unspecified civil war, where nobody can be trusted.

The uncompromising staging is everything: all metal, concrete and black bin liners, with a hefty

wooden ramp dominating centrestage, with the characters charging up and down it as the action dictates.It’s all a bit Mad Max.

The beauty of Shakespeare is, of course, that he skillfully presents characters that are neither wholly good or evil, so his audience can relate to their turmoils. But in this Rufus Norris production, the Macbeths are perhaps a little too eager to see off Duncan and co to get the Crown to evoke much sympathy from us.

Those marvellous heart-wrenching speeches we all learnt at school fail to fully hit home.

Macbeth, played by Michael Nardone, is the soldier, with his flat jacket held in place by gaffer tape, and not influenced by his wife as much as perhaps Shakespeare implied, while Lady Macbeth, played by Kirsty Besterman, is very conviving: sexy, ambitious yet ultimately not as

tough as she thinks she is.

The witches are wildcats, keeping watch from their poles as they hoodwink Macbeth into believing in his immortality, while Macduff, played by Ross Waiton, is the more cunning, gentle family man who ultimately outsmarts the desperate Macbeth.

It is always hard to ‘do’ Shakespeare. There seems to be a need to ‘do different’ to make it relevant to today’s audiences but what always remains is that wonderful poetry. Just go and soak it up but watch out for the couple of beheading scenes. Truly gruesome!

Sarah Hardy

The show continues until Saturday. Visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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