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A CurtainUp London Review
"Methought I heard a voice cry ~ Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep."
— Macbeth
The weird sisters (Photo: (Marc Brenner)
This is the first play I have seen at Shakespeare's Globe with Emma Rice formerly of Kneehigh in charge as Artistic Director. Iqbal Khan directs Macbeth. Jocelyn Pook's music is wonderful, mysterious and sinister and the four, yes four, weird sisters appear from behind veils, amorphous figures. When we can see them, they are more like slaughter house attendants than magicians. Their head gear is straight out of David's "The Death of Marat." First they bring back a wounded soldier from the dead. From assorted body parts they construct the Thanes of Glamis and Cawdor and of the King to show Macbeth what he might become as they incant his future. It feels as much like voodoo as witchcraft as the limbs move independently of the witch held skulls.

Ray Fearon's years at the RSC ensure he speaks the verse beautifully and his presence is of a soldier more comfortable at war than in a situation of domestic murder. Tara Fitzgerald's voice initially seems too quiet to hold the crowd at the Globe and compete with helicopters but her very sexual interpretation warms up her delivery. Her vocal range is extraordinary as she descends into the deepest, as if cigarette fuelled, register. A child haunts the stage, the missing child in the Macbeth's marriage but confusing for anyone not familiar with the play.

I liked Jermaine Dominique's loyal Banquo, both he and Fearon are graduates of Rose Bruford. Banquo's ghost will haunt the banquet under a silk draping canopy. Nadia Albina introduces a comic anachronism as the Porter who would have amused the groundlings in the Elizabethan Pit but whose humour today often misses its mark, even at the Globe where the crowd are so ready to laugh. "Remember the porter!" she says. How could we forget the odd note sounded by the comparison of Trump to Lucifer and the "To remain or not to remain" reference to the referendum on the European Union.

Jacob Fortune-Lloyd plays all three children, Donalbain, Fleance and Young Macduff but is denied Fleance's position at the end as heir when the Macbeth's ghost child dominates the closing scene. This isn't a comfortable Macbeth but it isn't laughable either. I can still picture Derek Jacobi in the 1970s loungewear Macbeth. It is a difficult play, fraught with problems but the verse is as poetic as one could wish from a man who should be a hero and might have been, given a different wife. The connection between Fitzgerald and Fearon is not strong despite the attempt at sexual tension.

Iqbal Khan's production lost my attention and its momentum as it progressed, having started strongly on the battlefield with the weirdest of sisters.

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Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Iqbal Khan
Starring: Ray Fearon, Tara Fitzgerald, Jermaine Dominique
With: Nadia Albina, Elizabeth Andrewartha, Danielle Bird, Scarlett Brookes, Sam Cox, Jacon Fortune-Lloyd, Kerry Gooderson, Terence Keeley, Freddie Stewart, Lloyd Thomas
Movement: Coral Messam
Set and Lighting Design: Ciaran Bagnall
Costume Design: Joan O'Cleary
Sound Design: John Leonard
Composer: Jocelyn Pook
Fight Director: Kevin McCurdy
Running time: Three hours with an interval
Box Office: 020 7902 1400
Booking to 1st October 2016
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 23rd June 2016 performance at Shakespeare's Globe, New Globe Walk, London SE1 (Rail/Tube: London Bridge or St Paul's)

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©Copyright 2016, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from Lizzie Loveridge A member of the Critics' Circle Chief London drama critic for the online magazine of theatre news and reviews 6/89 Blackheath Hill London SE10 8TJ 020 8320 2528 07884427455 macbethlon16.jpg