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Macbeth (Sheffield)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Daniel Evans' Macbeth, like last year's Othello, is a traditional, period version of William Shakespeare's classic. After a slightly hammy start from some rather predictable "secret, black, and midnight hags", the production takes off, largely thanks to the sterling performances of Geoffrey Streatfield and Claudie Blakley as Mr and Mrs M.

Streatfield understands and communicates his text in a way that makes you believe every word and thought. Likewise, Blakley steers clear of simplistic interpretations of the "fiend-like queen", finding a youthful vulnerability in her part that adds a touching depth to her own decent, as well as her husband's.

Richard Kent's in-the-round design is stylish, practical and well-managed by the company. Though occasionally a little intrusive, David Plater's lighting and Richard Taylor's sound contribute to moments of great atmosphere, and whilst some notoriously difficult elements of the play - such as the aforementioned witches - don't hit the right tone, others - such as Banquo's ghost - are spot-on. Thanks to a pleasing mixture of stage mechanics, gory theatricality, and the utterly compelling terror of Streatfield's Macbeth, this is one of the production's most memorable scenes.

This Macbeth is unlikely to win awards for innovation, but as a slick, well-acted presentation of the text, it is up there with the best.

Macbeth runs at the Crucible, Sheffield until 6 October.


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