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Macbeth a Tour de Force for Ralph Fiennes

A brilliant production by Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Traveling to the old BET Network Studios where Macbeth is being performed, was a daunting prospect. But Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) has made it easy. There is great security and loads of parking. I would suggest you try to get tickets today, though it is mostly sold out due to everyone’s anticipation of seeing Ralph Fiennes and Indira Varma.

Last night, anticipation became reality. It was clear from the beginning that this production of Macbeth is a tour de force for Ralph Fiennes as Macbeth. With a riveting performance by Indira Varma as Lady Macbeth, the entire production is brilliantly directed by the supremely talented Simon Godwin. STC is incredibly fortunate to have him as their Artistic Director.

For anyone who doesn’t know the story of Macbeth it is Macbeth and Banquo, who are generals serving King Duncan of Scotland, meet the Weird Sisters, three witches, who prophesies that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor, then king, and that Banquo will beget kings. King Duncan visits Macbeth at his castle of Dunsinane at Inverness. Macbeth and his ambitious wife move for power. Macbeth kills Duncan, and the murder is discovered when Macduff, the Thane of Fife, arrives to call on the king. Duncan’s sons Malcolm and Donalbain then flee the country, fearing for their lives. Their speedy departure seems to implicate them in the crime, and Macbeth becomes king.

Courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre by Marc Brenner
   Indira Varma  Photo courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre by Marc Brenner

Worried by the witches’ prophecy that Banquo’s heirs instead of Macbeth’s own progeny, will be kings, Macbeth arranges the death of Banquo, though Banquo’s son Fleance escapes. Banquo’s ghost haunts Macbeth, and Lady Macbeth who is driven to madness by her guilt. The witches assure Macbeth that he will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and that no one “of woman born” shall harm him. When the army, using branches from Birnam Wood as camouflage, advances on Dunsinane, Macbeth sees the prophecy being fulfilled. Birnam Wood has indeed come to Dunsinane. Lady Macbeth dies, Macbeth is killed in battle by Macduff, who was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped” by cesarean section, and in that quibbling sense was not “of woman born.” Malcolm becomes the rightful king. A simple story of power and intrigue, and on stage it is the acting that takes you in.

In addition to Fiennes and Varma, Godwin has brought together an amazing cast. All extremely talented and each special in their own way. It includes Ben Allen as Ross, Ewan Black as Malcolm, Levi Brown as Angus, Jonathan Case as Seyton, Danielle Fiamanya as Second Witch, Keith Fleming as King Duncan/Siward, Michael Hodgson as Second Murderer, Lucy Mangan as First Witch, Jake Neads as First Murderer/Donalbain, Richard Pepper as Lennox, Steffan Rhodri as Banquo, Rose Riley as Menteith, Lola Shalam as Third Witch, Rebecca Scroggs as Lady Macduff/Doctor, Ethan Thomas as Fleance, and Ben Turner as Macduff.

Add to this cast an incredible creative team who make this production so special. It includes Set and Costume Designer, Frankie Bradshaw, Lighting Designer, Jai Morjaria, Sound Designer, Christopher Shutt, Composer, Asaf Zohar; Movement Director, Lucy Culllingford, and so important especially in the last scene, Fight Director, Kate Waters. 

This Macbeth is a show not to be missed, but if you haven't gotten tickets in advance, you may have a hard time now. I suggest you keep trying. You definitely want to be one of those who can say “I saw Ralph Fiennes, directed by Simon Godwin in Macbeth.” It will be here through May 5th and you can go online for tickets