Review Roundup: Christopher Eccleston in RSC's MACBETH
Polly Findlay directs Christopher Eccleston in his RSC debut in the title role of Macbeth, with Niamh Cusack returning to the company to play Lady Macbeth and Edward Bennett as Macduff, in a contemporary production of Shakespeare's darkest psychological thriller. Returning home from battle, the victorious Macbeth meets three witches on the heath. Driven by their disturbing prophecies, he sets out on the path to murder.
Macbeth will be broadcast live to cinemas on 11 April 2018 and will transfer to the Barbican as part of our London Season from October 2018 - January 2019.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Michael Billington, The Guardian: There are many good things in this production. Edward Bennett movingly registers Macduff's grief, Luke Newberry's Malcolm is shadowed by impending danger and Raphael Sowole is a sturdily watchful Banquo. The action also moves at a tremendous lick. This is a lively production in which there has been much throwing about of brains, yet it all too often advertises its ideas instead of allowing them to emerge subliminally.
Ann Treneman, The Times: Oh, how I wanted it to be good. The production, directed by Polly Findlay, is easier on the eye than the National's gore-fest: stylish with flashes of humour and not a hint of Brexit. There were, however, problems with the sound that often made me feel I was watching something called MacMumble. At times, it felt as if we were listening underwater, the "something wicked this way comes"
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard: It's the old number 9 bus problem all over again: you wait ages for a production of the Scottish play and then the country's two largest theatres unveil one each in the space of two weeks. Rufus Norris's misfiring version for the National opened first, to the sound of very few hands clapping. There is, thankfully, far better news upon Avon: Polly Findlay's take, starring an earthy Christopher Eccleston, is clear, gripping and, above all, poundingly urgent.
Natasha Tripney, The Stage: Though the production is often very far from subtle - Lizzie Powell's lighting fizzes and flickers and there are bits of Rupert Cross' score that would not feel out of place in one of the Insidious films - it doesn't just trade in thumping jump scares. There's a tender and knotty quality to Eccleston and Cusack's relationship, and the moment when Edward Bennett's amiable, cardiganed Macduff realises what has befallen his family is quietly devastating.
Sarah Crompton, Whatsonstage: Macbeth is on the A-level syllabus this year. This probably explains why our two biggest theatrical institutions the National Theatre and now the Royal Shakespeare Company have chosen to open the play within weeks of each other. But pity the poor 17 year-olds trying to make sense of what they are seeing. A suitable subject might be "What is is about Macbeth that makes it so hard to stage in the modern age?" They'll get A stars for that. Polly Findlay's production is as ruthlessly cut, modish, tricky and eccentric as the one Rufus Norris unveiled two weeks ago.
Photo Credit: Richard Davenport/RSC