First, the RSC production at Stratford upon Avon - it features Christopher Eccleston as Macbeth, and Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth.
|Publicity photo from RSC site|
The production is a modern dress one, and features Witches who are little girls, (perhaps 9 or 10 years old), looking deceptively harmless in their identical pink pyjamas, and fluffy slippers/boots with pom-poms on, and each cradling a battered and uncared-for doll. They speak in unison, and there is definitely a slight 'Midwich cuckoos' vibe there.They were certainly creepy, although the down side is that their appearance makes a bigger impact than their words.
|The Witches (production photo from RSC)|
Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth is good - increasingly frenetic and chillingly ruthless, coming over as an intelligent, ambitious woman, denied the chance to be anything but a decorative hostess, although her sleepwalking scene was, irritatingly, partly played out in the invisible-to-those-of-us-in-the-side-seats gallery above the stage.
Macduff (Edward Bennett) deserves a special mention, his despair as the distraught husband and father as he learns of his family's deaths is heart-wrenching. The Porter (Michael Hodgson) is on stage through almost all of the play - chalking up a tally of the Macbeths' victims, silently assisting various murders find their victims, and lending a ear (whether sympathetic or not) to Macbeth in his soliloquies. He's wonderfully unsettling.
However, despite lots of excellent actors I felt that the production as a whole was rather patchy and a little incoherent, and the projected clock, counting down, and the selected lines projected on the set distract from, rather than adding to, the play.
We saw it very early in the run and there were a few stumbles on lines, too. I do have a ticket to see it again, later in the year, and I shall be interested to see how it feels when everyone is more settled into their roles. But despite the flaws, I did enjoy it, and am glad that I'll get to see it again.