Last night I went to see ‘the Scottish play’ at Trafalgar Studios.
I’m not the biggest Shakespeare fan. I respect his body of work, and his creation of words, and his wordplay therein, and I like the amount of death that seems inherent in his tragedies. That’s quite a lot of things. Maybe I do like Shakespeare.
The reason I was so keen to see this production was the same reason the majority of the audience were drawn in to see this production, James McAvoy.
I don’t know what it says about me, that I was pulled along on a string by the possibility of a Hollywood star spitting on me, maybe I could get Dominic Cooper to watch.
I have been lucky to have seen productions of Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing (thanks Adam) at The Globe but last night was a different creature entirely.
I’m going to assume everyone is aware of the story of Macbeth to a passing degree so will avoid the opening gambit.
The whole thing was established as though it were taking place in a grim post-apocalyptic Scotland, or it might have just been Scotland. The three witches carried workmen’s torches and wore masks, everything was broken and rusting and dripping and decrepit and then in came McAvoy, sliding about on his knees like a child at a wedding, and I was hooked.
In the past I have struggled to ‘get’ McAvoy as a brutal leading man, his performance in Wanted left something to be admired, and I always assumed him to be somewhat foppish. This could be the fault of his excellent portrayal of Brian in Starter For Ten.
As Macbeth however, he was stunning. Bearded and pacing and cut and heaving, he held dominion in the ways Macbeth should. The venom and aggression with which he delivered were incredible. You could have heard a grenade pin drop in the theatre, people were utterly spellbound.
Given how the aim of the Monday night showings in the tiny theatre is to open people to the power of Shakespeare and the theatre, they did a fantastic job. The crowd were full of the kind of people you wouldn’t usually associate with enjoying the work of the great bard.
While I don’t want to just write a piece about how beautiful James McAvoy’s beautiful eyes are (they are beautiful), it was the main draw and the main attraction. The supporting cast were equally spellbinding but people, myself included, love the cult of celebrity.
Jamie Ballard really came into his own in the second act as Macduff and Claire Foy was suitably manipulative and enticing as Lady Macbeth.
Props go to Jamie Lloyd for his production of the play which was visually and audibly one of the greatest things I have seen committed to the stage. The horrorshow violence was fitting to the bleak world created and the minimalist set helped to hone the attention.
I would say go see it, but I know it has completely sold out, and for good reason.