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“An atmospheric but unsubtle production”

Portentous images loom out of the darkness in the opening moments of Douglas Rintoul’s moody, muddled Macbeth. A child flies a kite. Soldiers battle in silhouette. Witches mourn an unidentified corpse.

But for all the show’s evocative menace, this is a traditional telling of the classic tale of regicide and revenge.

Rintoul sets a fast pace, rattling through each scene with plenty of energy but precious little nuance, never really taking time to dwell on the plot’s emotional beats. You can’t doubt the quality of the passionate performances, but too many lines are lost in the general barrage of sound and fury.

Paul Tinto is strong as the eponymous usurper, conveying much of the character’s inner turmoil through twitchy physicality and sudden panicky outbursts. Beside him, Phoebe Sparrow’s Lady Macbeth wears her emotions on her bloodstained sleeves, exulting in her newfound power but quickly becoming frustrated by her husband’s reticence.

Meanwhile, Ewan Somers makes an effective Macduff, believably communicating the breakneck journey from appalled onlooker to bloody-minded avenger.

Ruari Murchison’s design echoes the show’s grim mood, with a backdrop of rusted, riveted sheet metal looking more like the hull of a wrecked battleship than a castle’s walls. Meat hooks and blood-splattered strips of opaque plastic hang from above like the curtains in an abattoir.

An ominous, pulsing lighting design by Daniella Beattie finishes off the spectacle, suggesting flickering candlelight or the encroaching fires of hell, barely holding back the thick shadows that threaten to engulf the stage.

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Production Details
Production nameMacbeth
VenueQueen’s Theatre
StartsFebruary 7, 2020
EndsFebruary 29, 2020, then touring
Running time2hrs 30mins
AuthorWilliam Shakespeare
DirectorDouglas Rintoul
Set designerRuari Murchison
Lighting designerDaniella Beattie
Sound designerPaul Falconer
CastAdam Karim, Connie Walker, Daniel Kendrick, David Nellist, Ewan Somers, Martin Johnston, Paul Tinto, Phoebe Sparrow, Rikki Chamberlain, Tilda Wickham, Colette Mcnulty, Danielle Kassaraté
Stage managerNatalie James-Fox
ProducerDerby Theatre, Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch
VerdictEmpowered by boisterous performances, this is an atmospheric but unsubtle production of Shakespeare's bloody drama
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Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

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