Review Roundup: MACBETH Opens On Broadway Starring Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga

See what the critics are saying!

By: Apr. 29, 2022
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Tony Award winner Sam Gold's Macbeth starring Daniel Craig in his return to Broadway as Macbeth and Ruth Negga's Broadway debut as Lady Macbeth, officially opened yesterday, April 28, at the Longacre Theatre.

The cast also features Phillip James Brannon ("Servant") as Ross, Grantham Coleman (The Great Society) as MacDuff, Asia Kate Dillon ("Billions") as Malcolm, Tony nominee Maria Dizzia (In The Next Room) as Lady Macduff, Tony nominee Amber Gray (Hadestown) as Banquo, Emeka Guindo (Camelot) as Fleance, Paul Lazar (Silence of the Lambs) as Duncan, Bobbi MacKenzie (School of Rock) as Macduff's Child, Michael Patrick Thornton ("The Red Line") as Lennox, and Danny Wolohan ("Orange Is The New Black") as Seyton. The ensemble is completed by Che Ayende (King Lear), and Eboni Flowers (Slave Play). Stevie Ray Dallimore (Henry IV) is the standby for Daniel Craig. Tina Benko, Lizzy Brooks, Jared Canfield, Peter Smith, and Ronald Emile complete the cast as understudies.

A tale of malice, matrimony and murder, MACBETH tells the story of one couple's obsession with power-and their guilt after doing the unthinkable. For 15 weeks only, this thrilling new production will capture the passion and ferocity of Shakespeare's most haunting text like never before.

See what the critics are saying...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: Still, at the end of an often brutal Broadway season that was rightly concerned with harm and heartlessness - in which many shows, including this one, were bedeviled by illness and delays - I liked Gold's showing us that in times of distress and violence people should remember to care for one another. If it has nothing to do with "Macbeth," it has plenty to do with us.

Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: Broadway's 2021-22 comeback season goes out with a shrug in Sam Gold's production of Macbeth, the kind of passive-aggressive theater party that invites two big stars to attend-Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga as the regicidal title couple-and then makes a point of ignoring them. Short, eloquent, violent and packed with sensational business (murder! witches! madness! ghosts! a decapitated head!), Macbeth is usually one of Shakespeare's most exciting plays. Not so here: Deliberately murky, this anemic modern-dress production creeps at a petty pace from scene to scene, to the last syllable of the tragedy's verse and beyond into a wistful folk-song coda.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Fair warning for anyone bothered by the sight of blood shooting across the stage: You might want to cover your eyes. This production certainly goes for the gore. A curious choice, considering the dramaturgical note in the program (it prepares the audience for "minimal scenery," "no major scene changes," and double- and triple-casting): "This simplicity and flexibility, in which the play's language carries most of the narrative and expressive weight, enables a high level of imaginative participation." Yet Gold-who previously helmed King Lear, Othello, and Hamlet-turns Duncan's stabbing, usually an offstage moment, into something out of Psycho, complete with horror-movie lighting and chilling sound effects.

David Finkle, New York Stage Review: Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga assumed the roles of, respectively, the title figure and Lady Macbeth. Intermittently, they appeared to be trying out some of the more tense emotions they would display in a finished production-Negga more so than Craig. Twelve actors completed the ensemble, several of them emoting somewhat-Paul Lazar as Duncan and the Porter, Grantham Coleman as MacDuff, Amber Gray as Banquo (addressed with the use of she-her-hers pronouns). The rest delivered Shakespeare's dialog as if still learning their assigned lines. Some seemed amused to be mouthing Shakespeare's words. More than one of the male performers spoke Shakespeare's grave iambic pentameters with their hands in their trouser pockets.

David Cote, The Observer: Personally I have no desire for Macbeth set during the Civil War, or in space, or the Trump Administration. I won't say I felt completely satisfied (for that, give me a truly kickass Macbeth-Macduff fight). But I was entertained, and heard some great language spoken by legends of my time. And evil, in the end, was defeated. I think. What was the soup? Whatever you want it to be.

Greg Evans, Deadline: A very busy Broadway season comes to a close with its final production, and Sam Gold's staging of Macbeth starring Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga is nothing if not a dynamic attempt to cap an unusual and often extraordinary theater season. Uneven - if not so much as Gold's 2019 King Lear with Glenda Jackson - and peppered with choices both curious (what, no "double double toil and trouble?") and captivating (a brief prologue that's as funny as it is timely), this iteration of The Scottish Play, which opened last night at the Longacre Theatre, nearly holds up to the unavoidable hype of its starry cast.

Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post: Craig, a fine actor in the past, is a victim of all the directing detritus. Gold seems to have told 007 and company to act detached and indifferent in this oh-so-violent and propulsive of works. Kings and murderers sound like Iowans discussing soybeans. When the witches tell Mackers that he'll be promoted to Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland? Meh. "Is this a dagger which I see before me?" Yawn. During "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," Craig channels Hank Hill and cracks open a Bud Lite.

Christian Lewis, Variety: The production boasts an all-star cast - Daniel Craig (Macbeth) and Ruth Negga (Lady Macbeth) plus theater favorites Maria Dizzia (Lady Macduff) and Amber Gray (Banquo), to name just a few - but every single actor is in their own play. No one is on the same page stylistically; scene partners barely connect with each other; there is no trace of any unifying dialect. The only piece of direction they all seemed to be given is to stand center stage, unmoving, for every monologue and deliver it to the balconies, chin and eyes up.

Matt Windman, AM New York Metro: Gold's production of "Macbeth" is stripped-down and casual (with many actors playing multiple roles and a utilitarian scenic design), often effective (mostly due to the performances), and just as often bewildering. For instance, at the beginning, the witches are depicted cheerfully cooking. At the end, the cast comes together over soup and song. There is also a vaguely seventies design scheme, ad-libbing, and hard drinking. It's too bad Gold can't provide live audio commentary to explain what he is going for.

Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely: Not only does this street-clothes production do away with any sense of regality, save for a luxurious robe Craig wears in the second act (costumes by Suttirat Larlarb), but Gold's vision is to make Macbeth as "approachable" as possible. A pre-show speech by the hilarious Michael Patrick Thornton informs us of Shakespeare's time writing this as a plague raged through England and people turned toward the supernatural. It's close to the audience interactions famously espoused by traditional Globe productions - which a note in the Playbill unwisely evokes - but this attempt to appeal to the everyman becomes tiresome.

Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: I wish I didn't have the nagging feeling that the director was less interested in these actors than in his special touches. These include a particular attention to gore (an amputated leg chopped up as part of the witches' brew elicited an audible blecchh from the audience.) This seems ironic, because this "Macbeth" struck me as a bit bloodless.

Helen Shaw, Vulture: Almost tenderly, then, the production drifting around Craig touches him only lightly. It's an unusually bare staging for Broadway, stuffed with ideas but stripped clean of folderol. For the majority of the company, director Sam Gold has settled on a kind of still-in-rehearsal vibe, with big events whirling up out of an empty theater lit dimly by ghost light. Who is a witch and who is a laird in any single moment seems fluid - appropriately for a cast hamstrung repeatedly by COVID setbacks, anyone might play anyone. In contrast, Craig and Ruth Negga, as Lady Macbeth, are incontrovertibly stars, gliding across the space like slow, gleaming peacocks.

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