Source: The Stage
Picture: Tristram Kenton
This must be the swiftest and noisiest Scottish Play ever staged. It starts with a total blackout, broken by lightning flashes and thunder claps. Then we catch first sight of the Weird Sisters - three gorgeous redheads in black strapless gowns enjoying a coven dance around a circle of living flame.
Edward Hall with his regular designer Michael Pavelka has carried over the staging style from his RSC Henry V, a rugged all-purpose set on more than one level. It is again lit by Ben Ormerod, even having Malcolm's English allies as machine-gun squaddies with 'En-ger-land' emblems on their helmets. While from his recent Rose Rage revival, we have a mix of timeless and modern metropolitan costume, plus plentiful blood.
But the real excitement comes with the casting of Sean Bean and Samantha Bond as a devoted married couple, passionate lovers falling into a sensuous embrace the moment he returns from the wars.
As anointed king, Bean dons spectacles, becoming a desk-bound royal administrator. But Bean's fans get an eyeful of his well-developed pecs and abdominal muscles as he goes into an Eastwick bedtime clinch with the Witches. And he speaks the text with admirable clarity in a strong northern accent, at times echoing that spaced-out melodic quality of a Mystery Play performer, although his matter of fact "tomorrow and tomorrow" fails to hit the emotional button.
Oddest moment of the show comes as Adrian Schiller, an ice-cold Malcolm, shapes up for his coronation, rounding up the thanes and about to impose an authoritarian bureaucracy on his bruised and battered Caledonians.
By John Thaxter
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