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BWW Review: MACBETH, Shakespeare's Globe Online

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BWW Review: MACBETH, Shakespeare's Globe Online

BWW Review: MACBETH, Shakespeare's Globe OnlineAs part of their long-running cultural education programme, Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank, Shakespeare's Globe brings a screening of Macbeth designed for young people. The programme, now in its fourteenth year, offers free tickets so many thousands of students can witness the works of the Bard where they should be seen; on a stage, rather than in a classroom. Now through YouTube, everyone has the opportunity to see this excellent and concise version of the Scottish play.

Sometimes, watching a Shakespearean play designed for 'young people' can feel as though the essence of the play has been lost. However this version, directed by Cressida Brown, is vital and energetic without losing the darkness at the heart of the play. The well-trodden story of Macbeth and his murderous quest for the throne of Scotland features betrayal, guilt, violence and the consequences of terrible ambition.

Ekow Quarty as a suitably contradictory Macbeth; he is a brave warrior, but easily led to evil by his wife. He then gains In Focus and ambition as he plunges into tyranny and further murders. Quarty is very natural, playing nicely to the audience and very comfortable with his lines.

Elly Condron is a decisive and persuasive Lady Macbeth. The decision to make her pregnant could be seen to give her a more female and vulnerable side, rather than playing her as simply a power-hungry control freak, but Condron remains as determined and ruthless as any Lady Macbeth. Condron and Quarty have a good chemistry and easy manner between them.

Samuel Oatley makes a convincing Cockney Banquo, his affection for Macbeth genuine and yet he clearly taunts him as he appears as a ghost. Jack Wilkinson is a loyal and constant Macduff and Aiden Cheng is a rather geeky and awkward Malcolm.

This version runs at a zippy 90 minutes, which shows intelligent editing. The Porter scene often feels oddly placed in the play, but Molly Logan makes it fit well, drunkenly interacting with the audience and being sick in a bucket. The banquet scene is well done, with an overly jovial Macbeth shocked and terrified by his visons of Banquo. The final fight between Macbeth and Macduff is also well-executed and visually brings out Macbeth's internal debate and desire to fight to the end.

Flags are a feature in the design, emphasising the play's theme of nationalism and identity. There is a desolate and dystopian feel to the production at points, but there are also some playful elements, such as huge helium balloons and a proliferation of confetti falling as the Macbeth household celebrate the visit from the king.

The music is the one element that does not work. The tone to indicate scene changes is medieval, but is often heavy-handed and obvious, with overly foreboding bass trombone, as though pointedly indicating what the audience is meant to feel. The playing used during Malcolm's final victorious speech sounds a little like the jokey trombone refrain under a circus performance. The musical number, along with awkward dance routine, at the very end also does not fit; feeling like the end to a Shakespearean comedy rather than one of his tragedies.

This is not a ground-breaking or particularly innovative version of Macbeth, but a combination of Brown's direction and the natural staging and manner of speaking from all the actors makes this a very easy-to-follow production, which manages to lose none of the essence of the play. As a way of bringing the play to young people for the first time, it is clear, concise and an excellent introduction.

Macbeth is available on Shakespeare's Globe YouTube Channel until schools reopen

Photo Credit: Ellie Kurttz

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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan