By Martina Merenda
Set in a post-apocalyptic present, National Theatre’s production of Macbeth, under the direction of Rufus Norris, doesn’t disappoint.
The tragedy in five acts starts with the brave Scottish general Macbeth, who, after a mysterious meeting with the “three weird sisters” (the witches) discovers to be the centre of a prophecy that will eventually see him as king of Scotland. Driven by ambition and following the incitement of Lady Macbeth, his wife, Macbeth decides to kill Duncan, the king of Scotland, and take over the throne for himself. However, the remorse and paranoia never left Macbeth, who was forced to kill others to maintain power. His kingdom soon becomes a tyranny and drives both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to madness and then to their death.
The idea of designing a set dark and decadent that moves is perfect as it helps the audience to follow the story without getting too much in between the performance, which is brilliantly carried out by the National Theatre company. Michael Nardone does an incredible job in portraying Macbeth, capturing the public’s attention, who followed his transformation into a mad man intently. Kirsty Besterman’s Lady Macbeth was a delight as she managed to perfectly become Lady Macbeth, capturing the essence of the infamous character, tormented by her inner demons she created when she helped her husband to take over the throne of Scotland.
To say that this play is a masterpiece is an understatement, as the company acts with a supreme professionality and keeps you on the edge of your seats. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of the Three Weird Sisters, that run around the stage and climb poles and speak with an echo, that brings out the magical and prophetical element of the three mysterious characters. Their voices, transformed with a sound effect to become echoed, are perfect for the characters as they resound in the whole theatre becoming part of it. According to the legend, when Shakespeare was writing Macbeth, he met three witches, took real spells from them and put them in the play; as the witches didn’t approve of this addiction in the play and cursed it. If we think that the play is allegedly cursed, this vocal effect makes me smile as the spell gets cast every night and will live forever in the theatre.
Although I have only words of praise for the performance and the mise-en-scène, there is one side of Norris’s production of the Scottish Play that I didn’t particularly like. Macbeth’s partial success is its critical side, and in this production, I didn’t find it too developed. As they decided to set the play in a modern time, I hoped they would make a critic on contemporary society more than just represent the story of Macbeth, as the message could’ve been more actual.
You can see Macbeth at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay until the 23rd March 2019.