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The Macbeths

Dundee Rep
Four stars

The bloody handprints on the side of the messed-up bedroom speak volumes about the secrets kept hidden there at the start of the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow’s ferociously intimate 80-minute slicing up of Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy. As the title of dramaturg France Poet and director Dominic Hill’s truncated rendering suggests, Hill’s production focuses solely on the play’s dangerously ambitious couple. Revived quickly for this touring version following its gripping debut in the Citz’s now derelict Circle Studio in 2017, it is no less unflinching in its study of the private pillow talk behind the public smiles.

Charlene Boyd returns to the role of Lady Macbeth, by turns calculating and unhinged, in agony as much as mourning as she attempts to get beyond the darkness she and her partner in crime have created for themselves. Joining her as Macbeth, Lucianne McEvoy presents an equally damaged figure, who is just as vulnerable to the extremes both go to as a kind of coping mechanism, clinging to each other for comfort as they fall.

The dynamic between the two makes for something that feels less frenetic than before. It remains just as urgent, but seems to have more space to breathe in the stark gloom of Stuart Jenkins’ lighting. This by turn makes it even more psychologically compelling. With the Macbeths exposed in warts-and-all close-up and haunted by recordings of unspeakable acts, the full consequences of the couple’s actions are laid bare.

Like murderous lovers on the run whose desperation to fill the void went too far, even though they’re holed-up in their bedroom like fugitives, they each occupy their own even more private sphere, climbing the walls to their own self-destruction. Sleep, when it finally comes, is a relief unlikely to last long in a production that simmers towards its damning conclusion.

The Herald, October 5th 2018

ends


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