Macbeth, 2010

dir. Rupert Goold

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The best Macbeth I have ever seen, full stop. Oh sure, I’ve revelled the hidden gems in basement theatres, I’ve peered over balconies and craned to see better, I’ve felt flecks of spit land on my face and smelt the dust kicked up in the pit, I’ve been lost in my own thoughts when applause curtailed the house lights, I’ve struck palm against palm with watery eyes and I’ve travelled home in trances many a time but I cannot deny, despite it being reduced to the pitiful medium of screen, this really is the best Macbeth I have ever witnessed. Ever. I discovered it late at night when I turned on the box at 2am in a heavily inebriated state. I actually tuned in about half way through and I was compelled to switch it off and retrieve the full length DVD at a later date, so good were my first impressions. However, so compelling was every scene, so raw, so real, so hardcore was the Shakespeare, I just couldn’t help but keep watching ‘five more minutes’, right up until the very end, whereupon I promptly declared “That is the best Macbeth I have ever seen.”

 

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We could talk about Kate Fleetwood’s perfect Lady Macbeth. Oh, how she shudders, how she curls her lips, how she scrubs her hands!! We could talk about the disturbing witches or the iron-hearted Banquo (so refreshing to see him portrayed by an actor who is potent and active, rather than subtle and passive). We could even talk about the grotesque, make-your-skin-crawl gatekeeper. Any of which would incite express conversations of a worthy effort. But standing alone, among all these gems, like a mighty protruding rock holding firm in a raging tempest, like a toppling shovel of coal heaved into Satan’s furnace, like Cerberus tearing free from the shackles of human order, Sir Patrick Stuart delivers us the very most excellent of Macbeths, a true tyrant of epic proportions. Mark his eyes, oh mark how they flicker! Mark his voice, oh mark how it trembles. “Come, fate!” he roars at the camera “Enter the list! And champion me unto the utterance!” Every step of the way is riddled with dark ingenuity, every mili-second counts for some exquisite sinister psychological effect and not for a second does anybody rush their lines, every statement is pure silver, just how Shakespeare should be. Rupert Goold has gone and done it. He said to his actors “yes, yes, take your time and mean what you say!” This truly is the best rendition of The Scottish Play I have ever seen.

 

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The balance between screen and stage is perfect. Using only a handful of sets (all shot on location in Welbeck Abbey) Goold achieves a rich conjuration of his Soviet Scotland, portraying wonderfully macabre and menacing locations that somehow still retain a certain ‘cinematic warmth’ about them. The chilling blues of the grand hall. The monstrous greens of an endless passage. The bourgeois red of a bedroom. His use of shadow is incredible too and he plays tricks with beams of light that are just breathtaking. Overall, production is great and in fact quite inspiring for such a small-budget; it just goes to show, it’s not about how much money you throw at it, it’s about what you can do with your own skills.

 

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FREE PDF: check out one of Macbeth's terrific monologues right here!

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