THEATRE REVIEW: Macbeth starring Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack at the Barbican


WHERE? Barbican RUN TIME: 2 hours and 33 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

WHEN?: 27/10, runs to 17/11/18

The most striking thing about this modern-day re-imagining of 1 of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays is how the 3 witches become 3 identically-dressed schoolgirls.

  • Read on for reasons including how Doctor Who fans should relish Eccleston’s performance

So far, so League Of Gentlemen. Or The Shining, even. Director Polly Findlay has taken inspiration from a variety of sources for her striking visual imagery: Robert Icke’s version of Hamlet seems to have inspired the room we can glimpse at the top of the stage and his Oresteia is surely the reference point for the clock ticking down Macbeth’s time with us after the decision which changes his life.

We very much enjoyed Michael Hodgson’s Porter who quite literally chalks up the deaths on 2 walls, 1 by an actual water cooler, where Lady Macbeth will try to clean her hands.

The plot you will be familiar with: the schoolgirls appear to Macbeth after a successful battle and predict he will become King. Lady Macbeth (Niamh Cusack, frighteningly good) convinces her husband to murder the King and starts a chain of events that will (spoiler alert!) prove to be his undoing.

We see this as London is celebrating Halloween and it’s a tale particularly suited to this time of year with its recurring ghosts appearing to Macbeth and the use of dust to denote them is especially effective.

We also loved the coronation scene with its plush red carpet and gold glitter falling from the ceiling over the overjoyed couple.

Cusack and Eccleston speak in their own accents and the latter’s Macbeth is physical and convincingly flawed.

Some have criticised the striking imagery for overloading the production but we felt it enhanced it no end and it was so much better than the National’s version of Macbeth earlier this year.

  • Picture by Richard Davenport via Facebook courtesy Barbican. Tickets
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