Here's my review of Macbeth at the Milton Keynes Theatre on October 19th - and a spoiler for the lucky ones who can go to London later on and see the production themselves :)
Back on the Continent, I'm still flying! I was absolutely thrilled to see Sean Bean on stage! I mean, it's just marvellous to see an actor I've known from his films only, live in a theatre. And it was funny, too, because it took me some time not to think of Boromir . But Sean had a completely different role, though there were some parallels: a setting in older times, strange clothes, swords, fighting, battlefields and castles with kings and soldiers hopping around. And the character of Sean was again unhappy, a tortured and somehow pitiable hero with more than one moment of madness - certainly a quality of Sean's acting!
The theatre was sold out. Unfortunately I was not in the front row but in the upper circle. But I could see the stage all right and the room had good acoustics. I was able to understand (almost) every word - and this was not an easy thing for me... But I've read the play several times before, and I could follow the performance all right. I was surprised how easily they staged this 404 year-old play of Shakespeare's. Edward Hall obviously didn't want to do something artificial, but modern. The stage scenery was a mixture of traditional and modern features. The effects and the lighting were well done. The costumes had a militaristic look, and there was a lot of leather and skin. :) In some scenes Sean was really sexy - sigh!
The way they acted was very natural. Especially Sean seemed to have discovered his own inner little Macbeth. He acted as if this character were a part of him. And compared with Polanski's production, or the RSC production with Ian McKellen, Sean was a very young Macbeth. I mean, he was not that kind of Nero, but acted as if in youthful carelessness. He was passionate, resolved and energetic. His stage presence was great, especially in his soliloquies. In these moments I regret that I was too far away to see all his gestures. Sometimes he seemed to be hurried, because he delivered his lines very quickly. But I think it was a general decision of Hall to push on with the action. I would have liked some slow moments of reflection to contrast with the tension, especially in the conflicting considerations of Macbeth and these scary moments before and after the murderous deed. In the second part the monologues of Sean and his dialogues with the murderers of Banquo in Act 3.1 were perfect.
Samantha Bond was excellent, a strong, frightening Lady with the quality to drive every man crazy. And so she did. The first scene with Sean was VERY SEXY. I could have screamed in a loud voice - but I did not. But I did hold my breath and was all blue in the face (fortunately nobody could see in the dark).
The weird sisters were very attractive, too. And though I first would have preferred to see some really old and ugly witches, in Act 4.1 I was glad they were not, because there were some more erotic scenes. Sean enjoyed them as well, I think :)
The vision of the dagger was very real, although Sean had to give the illusion of this vision all by his acting. The scene with the ghost of Banquo was less scary to me, because the character was on stage.
The fight of Macduff and Macbeth was incredible. Of course Sean was better with the sword (after all his training during the shooting for LOTR). But Edward Hall didn't want to make an exception - or he had no better idea for an ending than Shakespeare :) And at the very end of the play Sean died a professional death.
In conclusion: I would travel again all the way from the continent to Milton Keynes if I had the opportunity to do so. It was a wonderful trip, a brilliant performance and a great comeback on stage. Congratulations, Sean!
What else can I say? "So foul and fair a day I have not seen" (Macbeth, first line)
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