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Macbeth

By William Shakespeare| Directed by Polly Findlay | A Royal Shakespeare Company production

England

  • English with Spanish subtitles
  • 124 minutes
  • + 14 years

This spine-tingling version of Macbeth by the Royal Shakespeare Company plays out like a horror movie.


A general in the army of King Duncan of Scotland, Macbeth returns home after victory on the battlefield. On his way, he comes across three witches who foresee an auspicious future for him: he will be named a baron and then go on to become King of Scotland. He achieves the first by merit, but Macbeth and his wife want to ‘hurry’ the prophecy along and will do everything in their power to do so.

Shakespeare’s tragic story of murder, manipulation and witchcraft is brought to life in this large-scale production by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Directed by talented theater producer Polly Findlay, it reinvents the world of Macbeth, turning the story into a horror movie in a contemporary, critically acclaimed version. Performed at the RSC Theater in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2018, it used a square thrust stage surrounded by the audience on three sides.

Cast and crew


Performers: David Acton (Duncan), Afolabi Alli (Lord/Young Siward/Killer), Donna Banya (Donalbain/Lady), Stevie Basaula (Captain Bloody/Killer), Edward Bennett (Macduff), Katy Brittain (Doctor/Lady), Raif Clarke (Helper), Niamh Cusack (Lady Macbeth), Paul Dodds (Siward/Chamberlain), Christopher Eccleston (Macbeth), Josh Finan (Helper) Bally Gill (Ross), Mariam Haque (Lady Macduff), Michael Hodgson (Doorman), Johan Macaulay (Chamberlain/Lord/Killer), Luke Newberry (Malcolm), Tom Padley (Guard/Killer), Tim Samuels (Lennox), Raphael Sowole (Banquo) | Directed by: Polly Findlay | Designed by: Fly Davis | Lighting: Lizzie Powell | Music: Rupert Cross | Sound: Christopher Shutt | Movements: Aline David | Fight scenes: Kate Waters | Illusions: Chris Fisher.

(c) RSC

Polly Findlay

Director

At the heart of English theater

This British theater director’s career has involved working at some of the most important English theater companies. She has been behind seven National Theater productions and four Royal Shakespeare Company ones and is an associated artist at the latter. In 2011, she won an Olivier Award - one of the most important awards in the English theater world - for her role as director of the show Svengali starring illusionist Derren Brown.

William Shakespeare

Playwright

Eternally classic

This English playwright and poet (1564-1616) is undisputedly the world’s greatest creator of literature and theater and an expert at conveying his characters’ feelings, such as pain, betrayal, love and jealousy. This is why his plays - such as Hamlet, Rey Lear, Othello, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream - are still as popular as ever and are read and performed worldwide.

“This RSC version strikes me as notable for its powerful take on the Macbeth marriage and for the pungency of its hit-and-miss ideas”.

–The Independent

“Findlay’s Macbeth is one of energy and clarity. It’s playful, accessible and funny when it needs to be - and (Christopher) Eccleston and (Niamh) Cusack make a gripping central couple”.

–The Stage

“Director Polly Findlay has cast three doll-clutching girls to play the witches. From the opening scene, they locate Macbeth in a forbidding supernatural realm that is unique in Shakespeare”.

–The New York Times

–Leading man, British actor Christopher Eccleston (Dr. Who), has been praised for his outstanding performance as Macbeth. “Eccleston plays (Macbeth) perfectly creditably (…) He is every inch the vigorous, rugged soldier, with so little concern for diplomacy…”, says English newspaper The Guardian. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor has said that his Macbeth brings to the stage men’s insecurity about the concept of masculinity.

–Director Polly Findlay’s astute staging recreates the story using contemporary elements and conjuring up the atmosphere of a horror film. “There’s a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining - the three witches, played by nine-year-old girls in vivid red dresses and white tights, could be refugees from the auteur’s ghostly film, and their singsong delivery makes it seem as if they’re recreating a sinister playground game”, says The Evening Standard. The children, their absence, their disappearance and their death sentence all play a key role in Findlay’s production.

–Polly Findlay gives Shakespeare’s text a final twist, in a turn of events that The Hollywood Reporter describes as “irreverent (…), bringing the witches back onstage to hint ominously that the cycle of violence is not over yet. A cheeky coda, but perfect for a horror movie franchise. Four centuries in the making, Macbeth 2: The Revenge sounds like an enticing prospect”.

The Royal Shakespeare Company: Founded in 1961 as the successor to what was known as the Shakespeare Memorial Company, this English theater company’s repertoire is based on the works of the English playwright and also on other pieces from the Jacobean and Elizabethan times. It was the first theater group to receive government funding and part of its work involves running important educational activities based around Shakespeare. The company is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, holds live events and events via streaming and also tours worldwide.

—Shakespearean tragedy: English playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the world’s greatest dramatist, used the genre of tragedy from the very beginning of his career in pieces such as Titus Andronicus (considered his most violent piece), Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. All these plays have admirable but imperfect leading men whose decisions inevitably set them on a path towards a tragic end.

–Read more about the controversy in London prior to the premiere of Macbeth, when The Sunday Times described the production as “less garishly diverse”. The response of Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, was that “our purpose at the RSC is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, whatever your class or color, and that we reflect the nation in all its diversity”.

–Take a look at the RSC’s YouTube channel, which includes several videos dedicated to Polly Findlay’s production of Macbeth.

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