Macbeth - Reviews - Joy

Last Update: 22 October 2002

It's 9 am Friday, 18 October, and I'm sitting in a boring supplier presentation that will last over two hours. So I have two hours to let my mind drift and re-live a truly memorable Macbeth production.

I must have been excited in anticipation of watching the play. I drive to Milton Keynes quite regularly for meetings, but this time it only took me 1 1/2 hours to arrive there and arrive for 5:30 pm. My right foot must have been to the floor all the way down the M1.

My friend Ruth and I relaxed in a tranquil restaurant before we made our way to the Modern Theatre set on the outskirts of the Milton Keynes concrete shopping centre. A quick rush to buy the programme whilst the tanoy continually told us the performance would be delayed 25 minutes later than advertised, due to technical problems. Those 25 minutes seem to go slower as butterflies started to flutter in anticipation of seeing Sean on stage - Quick another drink!

Finally, I'm seated in the middle of Row A - wow, even got the legroom. Edward Hall, the producer, pops up on stage full of smiles to apologise for the delay, informing us they had not had a dress rehearsal, nor had they staged the play in order, so tonight, anything can happen. And if that anything adverse happened, they may even halt the play to rectify things. But the actors insisted on going ahead with the production. This would be the first staged full dress production of the play.

The lights go down, I now feel sick with anticipation of what is to follow; the see-though black curtain remains drawn. The great opening is dominated by a loud crack of thunder, the witches chanting around a circle of fire: "When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightening, or in rain …." Then we are drawn to the action of the battle; smoke, the clashing of metal from the sword fighting, the shouting, screaming then death, the truly magnificent atmosphere from behind black curtains reaches the audience. Then silence, and the unmistakable features can just be made out from behind the black cloth before it slowly draws up to the ceiling. My heart beats faster as Sean now stands on centre front stage, dead bodies lying around him. The play begins…

Sean stands in his baggy trousers and brown sleeveless leather coat over a black mesh vest in front of what seems to be a haunting Russian metallic fortress from a World War II scene. The leather coat compliments his rugged features, his black vest teases the eye to see through it, whilst his short cropped hair defines the character. He stands, panting profusely as he begins the intense part of Macbeth.

I was actually nervous during the first half of the play, nervous for Sean; his heavy breathing and heaving of the chest showed he was acting passionately 110% from the heart. His breathing quietened down considerably during the second half as he relaxed and enjoyed the part more freely. And what a second part! We got to see him half naked as he enjoyed the emotionally charged and sensual scene with the three witches. His body lean, his torso firm, his sex appeal dominant throughout the scene. One would rightly assume he had been working out to define his masculine lines. And what feet - I love feet (call me perverse). As he moved through the stage lighting, you could see his distinguishing tattoos high on both arms, untouched by stage make-up.

Throughout the performance, there were a few scenes where Sean smiled. This made me smoulder in my seat as his softer features appeared under his harsh cropped head. Sean's natural voice and unmistakable accent with soft tones had me transfixed to the stage. Although I do like to see Sean with hair, his haircut in this performance removed his excellent features. Cropped is okay for the play, but please grow a little back!

We cannot take away the absolutely magnificent Shakespearian acting from Samantha Bond; she naturally interpreted Lady Macbeth, and, I think, from an acting point of view, stole the show with her passionate performance that complimented Sean's energetic and incredibly intense part.

The whole play was very moving and had me sitting on the edge of my seat. The closing scenes gave the audience a magnificent sword fight (although it had a few mistakes - but that meant we got to see Sean a few seconds longer before he played a wonderful death).

But was that Sting's head that MacDuff placed on the stake?

Two hours went by far too fast, and as the final curtain fell, the star-studded cast appeared to take their final bows. The applause increased to such an enormity as Sean appeared last on stage, the cheers raised the roof of the theatre - and quite rightly so.

I loved the whole performance; it was excellently done. For those who have yet to see the performance, you have a real treat in store. I'd definitely go and see it again.

Congratulations Sean for a very enjoyable evening and good luck with the future performances.

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