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Hooray for the Scottish play!: Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios

By Emily Folkes –

It is an experience like no other when a theatrical production transports you away from reality, displacing you in an unfamiliar dream-like sensation. Over-exaggeration, you say? I say not. Today I went and saw Jamie Lloyd’s production of Macbeth and indeed, excuse the use of hyperbole, experienced the performance of a lifetime. Although I have to admit, on a vain level, it was James McAvoy’s performance that led me to see the production, I was truly not disappointed.

Presented in a dystopian, fractured Scottish landscape Shakespeare’s Macbeth came into a new light of interpretation. Traditionally, the tragic hero Macbeth is interpreted on a same wavelength as Hamlet: deluded and decaying into a self-conscious layer of madness. However, here we saw a revolutionary performance as the audiences witnessed the blood-driven, ambitious and terrifying portrayal of Macbeth. McAvoy, I believe, picks up Macbeth’s tortured conscious like no other has done before: creating a futuristic albeit realistic and timeless interpretation. Here was a character who was not an immature Hamlet. It was a shell-shocked, troubled and anxiety-ridden soul who was not comfortable but yet seemed to share our own personal issues: how do we deal with our fears and struggles when we know we are in the wrong?

McAvoy brilliantly depicted Macbeth’s slow psychological turmoil; bringing to life and emphasising Shakespeare’s haunting soliloquies as he gagged and deluded over the lines. Indeed, ‘the dagger of the mind’ was enticing and metaphorically powerful.

Moreover, the Scottish setting of the play was, in a peculiar phrase, beautifully presented. Never have the words of Shakespeare had so much power as the actors seemed to sing their lines of conflict and chaos. Shakespeare’s haunting language has never seemed to reveal so much prophetic layering.

Clair Foy’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth of course cannot escape praise. Her strong depiction, as she confidently and almost psychological abused Macbeth to kill Duncan, struck a new level. For such a young actress it was deeply interesting to watch a new portray of what is so traditionally perceived as a mature role. Her slow isolation from her husband is outstandingly captured as she too descends into her madness.

Drawn to tears, I left Trafalgar Studios emotionally drained. Undoubtedly this is a remarkably production; one which doesn’t deserve the Guardian’s three stars!! Definitely catch this if you can! It is bloody, brutal and undeniably brilliant.




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