Some may resist the purposefully slow pacing of the first half. Farber has turned one of The Bard’s shortest plays into three hours, even whilst removing some scenes. But I found it slowly submerged me in the dark undercurrents before I found myself gasping for breath in the raging torrents of Act 2.
The chillingly atmospheric staging includes a running tap, used to wash away the grime of battles and then the blood on hands and faces from the mounting murders. At the end, it slowly floods the stage as the protagonists drown in their crimes. It creates a stunning image as Lady Macbeth lays down in it to die, but is a little distracting when Macbeth and Macduff’s final battle frequently splashes the front rows.
Wheeled sheets of glass are used to create rooms we may eavesdrop on. Later they become mirrors, primarily reflecting the increasingly haunted Lady Macbeth. An eerily beautiful, echoing synth soundtrack is augmented by a live cellist (Aoife Burke), often accompanied by Henry’s rich vocals.
It all comes together in an almost overwhelming experience. The whole of Act 2 pulses with such drama I found myself leaning forward – dazed and distressed by the palpable emotions and inexorable doom roaring across the stage, but utterly thrilled to have been taken on such a thunderous journey. I’m already desperate to see it again.
THE TRAGEDY AT THE ALMEIDA THEATRE TO NOVEMBER 27
LIVE STREAM OCTOBER 27-30