The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp LondonLondon Review

by Lizzie Loveridge

We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking place and we'll not fail.
--- Lady Macbeth
Macbeth RSC 2005
Greg Hicks as Macbeth and Sian Thomas as Lady Macbeth
(Photo: RSC Manuel Harlan)

Such is the legend associated with the many disasters of the "Scottish Play" that there is a Macbeth story of a production starring the great Sir Ralph Richardson. When someone refused to lend him money, Richardson threatened that he would put it about that the actor was a member of the cast of Richardson's disastrous Macbeth. O'Toole's Macbeth at the Old Vic in the 1980s was met with giggles from the audience as he appeared covered from head to toe in blood and sais, "I have done the deed.". In view of the problematic nature of this play, it is surprising that anyone is prepared to put up the money but so many schools study this play, that there is a guaranteed audience of school parties.

Dominic Cooke has opted for the run-through rapid Macbeth, two hours ten minutes without an interval. I last saw this version directed by Gregory Doran with Antony Sher, again under the auspices of the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is a tall order for an RSC fledgling director to stage a successful Macbeth.

Whilst I have a lot of admiration for Greg Hick's and his powerful reverberated voice, the verse of this play did not come over as it should have. He has a good physique but here he seemed slight and tense. Perhaps the Albery is not the right space. The minimalist set too didn't help nor did the three Bagdad housewives who were the witches and about as sinister as last week's dirty washing. Sian Thomas, wild eyed, was excellent as the distracted, mad Lady Macbeth but I felt, not powerful enough as Lady Macbeth before the guilt wreaks its heavy price. Nothing chilled in the banquet scene nor even in the murder of Macduff's wife and children. Richard Cordery's Duncan I found dull rather than statesmanlike and saintly, and Pal Aron as Malcolm is decidedly odd with a drink problem. What on earth was the director trying to do in the final scene by making Malcolm sit centre stage up in the flies above the lone figure of Macbeth? I do not know.

I suppose the good news for young directors is that there is still room for a brilliant production of this difficult play. Michael Boyd has established the RSC's presence back in London. Now he has to attract great actors of the future. I still hanker for the days twelve years ago under Trevor Nunn's regime when my children asked me if a play was any good and I was able to say, "Of course it is. It's the RSC putting it on."

Macbeth RSC 2005
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Dominic Cooke

Starring: Greg Hicks, Sian Thomas
With: Louise Bangay, Ruth Gemmell, Meg Fraser, Richard Cordery, Pal Aron, Neil Madden, Jack Whitam, Zachary Fox/Steven Williams, Forbes Masson, John Mackay, Louis Hilyer, John Killoran, Clive Wood, Michael G Jones, Ian Drysdale, Sean Hannaway, Tommy Knoght/Matthew Thomas-Davies, Emily Knight/Shannon Wake
Set Design: Robert Innes Hopkins
Costume Design: Tania Spooner
Lighting: Peter Mumford
Sound: Andrea J Cox
Music Director: Richard Brown
Movement by Liz Ranken
Sound recreated by Tim McCormack
Running time: Two hours ten minutes with no interval
Box Office: 0870 060 6621
Booking to 5th March 2005.
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 16th February 2005 performance at the Albery St Martin's Lane London WC2 (Tube: Leicester Square)
London Theatre Walks

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook
London Sketchbook

Tales From Shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. Click image to buy.
Our Review

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

©Copyright 2005, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from