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Macbeths (Susan Elkin reviews)


This two hander version of Macbeth is set entirely in the Macbeths’ bedroom where the most of Shakespeare’s plot, in the original language is presented. The script – which is by David Fairs who also plays Macbeth – condenses the play to 75 minutes and rearranges the text very ingeniously. It uses the dialogue between the Macbeths and most of their soliloquies although often not in quite the order Shakespeare intended. Occasionally they speak lines which were originally spoken by others and putting them in the mouths of the Macbeths adds insightful new nuances.

Here, for example, it is Lady Macbeth who speaks some of Banquo’s assassin’s lines. The first witches’ prophecy and the appearance of Banquo’s ghost become nightmares and the visit to the witches in Act 4 is presented as a sort of bedroom séance with Lady Macbeth in a trance. It all works very smoothly until the final five minutes when we get the unlikely and rather jarring arrival of a third actor. Macduff is hardly likely to appear in the marital chamber, speaking the lines which belong in the English scene and then watch Macbeth die lying across his wife’s body.

Sarah Lambie as Lady Macbeth has unusually expressive legs and quite a way with sobbing. Whether she is tossing and turning in bed, tensing in the horror of a terrifying dream or being raped by a furious, troubled adrenaline-fuelled husband, her legs tell their own story. And her anguished crying is deeply, movingly convincing. Hers is a very strong performance and her sleepwalking (where better to set it than in a bedroom?) is one of the best I’ve seen.

David Fairs is terrific too especially at the end when he is brittle, troubled, tearful, poignant – and of course, insane – as he addresses and cradles his wife’s dead body. The transition from relatively carefree young love to evil, horror and tragedy is well managed by both actors but what really distinguishes this show is the quality of listening and rapport between the two of them. It is very intelligent, reactive acting by two people who know, really know, how to play off each other effectively.

 Originally published by Sardines End & Fringe-Macbeths&reviewsID=2502
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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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