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Macbeth’s castle in Inverness is a dank place with persistent drips and badly in need of a good plumber in this new production of the Scottish play. The watery gush, a constant backdrop to the unfurling of latent ambition, perfumes the drama with a fetid rankness in Colin Guthrie’s superb sound design. Banquo’s ghost is a thrusty puff – almost corporeal – while battle scenes, abetted by Timothy X Atack’s brisk rhythm track, have the feel of a dance.

Neil Dudgeon, who last year was an effectively mournful eponym in Christopher Hampton’s new version of Uncle Vanya for R3, enters as a Macbeth of discernible reason, puzzled rather than fired up by predictions of his elevation. He makes the tricky transition to a man emotionally charged by the lure of power, voice breaking, thoughts speeding, while the soundscape adds visceral punch and dark metaphor.

Emma Fielding’s Lady Macbeth has a cool understanding of the evil game they must play – “look like the innocent flower but be the serpent beneath” – and she and Dudgeon are the in-step power double act, who in another age would be showing off their kitchens to the electorate. His performance becomes resonant with Macbeth’s slide into hallucinatory guilt and his “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech is deeply sorrowful.

Shaun Dooley is an emotive Banquo while the Weird Sisters – Carl Prekopp alongside Jane Slavin and Ayesha Antoine – are all the better for their muted unscreechiness, as if reciting a recipe for jam while the world falls apart around them.

Distinctive sound design and clear lead performances take the listener into the heart of the human conscience

Production Information

BBC Radio 3
May 17, 2015, 10pm
William Shakespeare
Marc Beeby
Cast includes
Neil Dudgeon, Emma Fielding, Shaun Dooley, Paul Hilton, Jane Slavin, Carl Prekopp, Ayesha Antoine, David Hounslow, Alex Waldmann, Anastasia Hille
Running time