National Theatre's Macbeth Is A Bit Of A Bloody Mess

Macbeth, The National Theatre ★☆☆☆☆

By Chris Bridges Last edited 8 months ago

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National Theatre's Macbeth Is A Bit Of A Bloody Mess Macbeth, The National Theatre 1
Photo Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

If you're staging a big production for the National Theatre there are a few obvious options. Firstly a blood splattered classic text that will draw in the crowds as well as hordes of GCSE students. Secondly two big name theatre actors. Thirdly, thousands of bin bags? Can you see where they went wrong?

Rufus Norris's botch of a production of Macbeth is strangely and jarringly, set in some kind of bleak apocalyptic world — think Mad Max but without the fun, style or as much as a whiff of Tina Turner. For some unknown reason, the actors are all dressed like street drinkers who've been on a ten year white cider bender. Once you get to a point where the props list includes a didgeridoo, a traffic cone and enough black plastic to swathe a small village then you might want to rethink your Macbeth choices.

It's also handy if the theme fits the play and doesn't make the plot feel nonsensical.

Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff do their best with what they're given, but they're lost in this unholy mess and it feels like some exceptional talent is squandered. You don't need to be one of the Weird Sisters to predict that there are going to lot of bored punters wishing they'd saved £60 and stayed at home, and a lot of school board examiners wondered what the hell it was the kids were watching when they come to mark the papers.

Macbeth, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, SE1 9PX, £20-£60. [Monday-Saturday] Until 23 June

Last Updated 09 March 2018