Review: A bleak and powerful Macbeth on Stratford stage

Charles Essex reviews Macbeth at the Attic Theatre, Stratford

Dan Wilby and Alexandra Whitworth as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Photo: Andrew Maguire Photography
Dan Wilby and Alexandra Whitworth as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Photo: Andrew Maguire Photography

A bare stage and a backdrop of a map of Scotland, torn across the middle, set the scene for a land riven by invasion, civil war and deadly rivalries. This production had no scenery and minimal props, which enhanced the bleak political landscape of the time.

Macbeth is a tale of greed, ambition and betrayal. Although a courageous soldier, Macbeth (Daniel Wilby) is irresolute as he allows his wife’s ambition to induce him to pursue the witches’ prophecy. Daniel conveyed well Mabeth’s underlying character weakness and inner conflicts. Alexandra Whitworth was excellent as Lady Macbeth with the right balance of emotional persuasiveness, protectiveness of her husband, and anguish and guilt as she fears her dreams of power are slipping away.

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John-Robert Partridge gave a forceful yet sensitive performance as Macduff, especially on learning of the murder of his wife and children by Macbeth’s henchmen and Pete Meredith showed his versatility in his role as Banquo. Sarah Feltham, Ciara Lane and Sally Hyde Lomax were a star turn as the three witches, each with a different portrayal of their role, whether speaking or staring silently at the audience, menacing/intimidating in this small theatre. Much of the stage was often in darkness, with individual characters spotlighted, adding to the mounting tension as Macbeth and his wife headed towards their fate. The final fight scene between Macbeth and Macduff was impressively fearsome as they fought with broadswords.

Sometimes the sound effects were too loud and the recorded dialogue in the scene with the apparitions was largely inaudible. It was only by knowing the script that this reviewer understood that Birnam Wood was going to come to Dunsinane.

The cast delivered their lines confidently and flawlessly. Any student studying Macbeth for GCSE or A level would benefit from watching this performance.

* Macbeth runs until April 24. Visit theattictheatre.co.uk to book.