Saturday afternoon at the movies – well at the National Theatre Live broadcast of Macbeth. We booked tickets in advance to make sure we did not allow exhaustion and jet lag from our trip to Spain to convince us to go home and miss this. Good decision. This production came from Manchester, where it was performed in a deconsecrated church. The stage was created from the centre aisle, with the result being a long narrow space reminiscent of the Patterson Theatre at Stratford. The altar area was used for the banquet scene and the witches made several very effective entrances through windows at the back which might have been the choir loft. The floor of the aisle area was covered in peat moss or something like it, so it could absorb the rain that poured on the battlefield. But ti also created a very realistic mud that everyone had to slog through.
Kenneth Branagh was both actor and director and very successful in both roles. His Macbeth is a man of action who loses his moral compass for a moment and then is carried along by events. Lady Macbeth played by Alex Kingston was a more mature figure than one usually sees, but she was very convincing as a wife and partner in crime. Roy Fearon was a very good MacDuff – his anguish over the slaughter of his family was palpable.
Apparently tickets to this play sold out in nine minutes. I am sure no one when home disappointed, and those who missed seeing it live are lucky it was part of the NTL series.