By Angela Kennedy published
This is a raw and gritty Macbeth that will leave you reflective and eternally grateful for home comforts like a hot bath and decent dinner.
James McAvoy is just outstanding as the tortured King of Scotland. It is set in the future - no particular date - but just think The Road for that gloomy end-of-the-world vision of a barren land, where every man is out for himself. It is a primarily Scottish cast with the talented Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) playing a young scheming unstable Lady Macbeth in baggy layers of knits and leggings.
The performances are just spell binding, resounding with energy and vigour - but be warned, if you sit too close to the stage you may be covered in blood and grime splashed from the cast fighting their bloody way through scenes!
Much is made in the programme about a dystopian world and it may well be making an environmental statement about global warming, as the three witches wear gruesome gas masks throughout and look terrifying.
But everything hangs on James McAvoy's interpretation of Macbeth - he says it needs a young actor to play the part - and now I see why. Macbeth is a hard brutal soldier and has seen the real horrors of war.
McAvoy throws himself into every scene, leaping on and off tables and must be emotionally spent when he goes home each night. He oscillates between being a schizophrenic soldier to becoming speechless with angst, often scrambling his words to emphasise the point that he does not quite know how he is persuaded into murder.
The cast is superb, especially Macduff (Jamie Ballard) whose convincing distress at the murder of his children (‘not my pretty chickens') is positively tear-jerking.
‘It is an urgent play for today, I want it to resonate with here and now,' explains the director Jamie Lloyd. Let's just hope here and now is never as feral as this Macbeth - but don't miss the opportunity to see James McAvoy play the role of a lifetime .
Final performance Sat April 27th Further information The Trafalgar Studios www.macbethwestend.com
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