Macbeth marks the third Bard turn in the West End this year for Patrick Stewart. Just prior to Chichester this summer, where he also appeared in Twelfth Night, he was at the Novello Theatre from January through to March in the Royal Shakespeare Company transfers of Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest (See News, 25 Aug 2006). The latter was directed by Headlong artistic director Rupert Goold, who has also directed Macbeth.
The director’s wife Kate Fleetwood plays Lady Macbeth in a cast that also includes Michael Feast (Macduff), Martin Turner (Banquo), Paul Shelley (Duncan), Scott Handy (Malcolm), Tim Treloar (Ross) and Suzanne Burden (Lady Macduff). Goold’s expressionistic 1940s-dress staging sets the story in an East European, Stalinist state.
The production won almost universal raves – and plentiful five-star ratings – from overnight critics. It’s the “Macbeth of a lifetime”, trumpeted the Evening Standard’s Nicholas de Jongh. Those who had seen it in Chichester deemed the transfer “triumphant”, enjoying the highly “inventive” direction of Rupert Goold and the “brilliant” acting even more on second viewing. Patrick Stewart’s performance was hailed as, perhaps, the best of his career, with his Macbeth well matched by Kate Fleetwood’s Lady M. Amongst the supporting roles, Michael Feast, Martin Turner and Tim Treloar were frequently singled out for kudos, while Anthony Ward’s abattoir design and Adam Cork’s “deeply unsettling” also added greatly to the atmosphere for critics.
- by Terri Paddock