An appreciation post for Lady Macbeth and the comeback of theatre
Having studied Macbeth at GCSE, hearing phrases such as “look like the innocent flower/but be the serpent under’t” usually brings inexorable flashbacks of late night study sessions; frantically memorising Macbeth’s soliloquies and watching Mr Bruff on repeat. However, Seb Brindle’s ADC production of Macbeth simply brought appreciation and admiration.
Reminiscent of Divergent or the Hunger Games, the aesthetics of the entire production effectively depicted the post-apocalyptic Scotland the production team was going for; portraying the witches as shadows rising above the stage in an almost zombie-like facade, and having ‘Hench(wo)men in Black’ assassinate Banquo and Lady Macduff in a very mafia-like manner. For this, the lighting and sound team must be commemorated, doing a fantastic job in creating an eerie and chilling portrayal of the witches. Even though the production was inevitably delayed due to these “unprecedented times”, having it performed on the week of Halloween has ended up working perfectly in making Macbeth a Halloween-ey staple. Additionally, the costume team must also be congratulated, whose dystopian-like costumes were simplistic, but complemented the production’s aesthetic as a whole. Interestingly, dressing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the same clothes worked successfully in emphasising Macbeth’s succumbing to Lady Macbeth and becoming her double.
The acting was also incredible throughout. I particularly enjoyed Seb Brindle’s blocking of the scene where Macbeth (played by the compelling William Batty) is told by the witches that nobody born of woman will ever harm him. Having the witches stand behind Macbeth as he becomes their voodoo doll was fantastic – with the synchronised movement of the scene and Macbeth’s emphatic screeching, this moment was especially poignant and incredibly performed.
Special mention, however, must go to Gaia Mondadori, whose stunning portrayal of Lady Macbeth left the audience both amazed and terrified. It is safe to say that Mondadori gave Viven Leigh (who played Lady Macbeth in Laurence Olivier’s 1955 production) a run for her money, and performed her monologues like a literal Queen.
In 2020, however, it would be impossible to review a production without commenting on how they dealt with COVID restrictions. Respectfully, a two-metre distance was kept between performers where possible, but it would indeed not be a Shakespeare production without the occasional sword-fight. Therefore, when performers had no choice but to come into closer contact, balaclava scarves were seamlessly used as face masks. For this, I must congratulate the production team, and thank them for making a production in such “unprecedented times” feel as normal as possible – despite the foggy glasses.
Overall, this is a production I would strongly recommend. Despite some small flaws, and the questionable song choice at the very end of the production, which made one of Shakespeare’s harrowing tragedies comical, it is definitely worth breaking away from your weekly essays or problem sheets for. Also, when Gaia Mondadori is inevitably nominated for an Oscar in the future, you will want to be able to brag about seeing her at the ADC.
Macbeth is on now at the ADC until Saturday 31st October – find your tickets here.
All image credits to Bella Biddle.