Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Manuela Ruggiero
Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd
[rating: 3.5 ]
The Scottish play is much in evidence on the Southbank this summer for as Macbeth opens at Shakespeare’s Globe round the corner at the Rose, the archaeological site of the original Rose Theatre, there is another fascinating adaptation by WOH Productions. This has a modern setting in corporate London, Macbeth is a middle ranking executive planning the takeover of “Crown “ holdings from its chief executive Duncan. Manuela Ruggiero’s adaptation is very much a cut down version of Shakespeare’s original, it runs for barely one hour 20 minutes, but manages to retain not only all the key aspects of the plot but most of the well-known speeches.
This is essentially a Macbeth for two actors: Clive Moore plays the title rôle in a soft-spoken articulate manner well-suited to the intimate playing space on the Rose’s viewing gallery where the audience is seldom more than a few feet away from the action. Francesca De Sica plays a sensual Lady Macbeth and also doubles as Banquo, an inspired piece of doubling which meant that during the banquet scene Macbeth could see the murdered Banquo’s visage in his own wife’s face.
The other four members of the cast played the witches and spirits whose influence pervaded the whole action as well as playing the fleeting appearances by the other characters. We lost some characters completely : the Macduff family, Ross and Duncan’s sons, and many others only made token appearances. Instead the story was effectively told through the use of modern media; mobile telephones were used the communicating with characters off stage, while periodic headlines in newspapers and broadcasts reported the key events.
WOH productions makes much of its use of physical theatre and that was evident in some of the stylised dance inspired moves particularly of the spirits but it was the innovation in the telling of the story which made this production memorable. traditionalists will prefer the Globe’s Elizabethan version but to anyone who likes to see Shakespeare interpreted in new and creative ways I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the Rose.