The Not-So-Scottish Play: Macbeth At Temple Church

Macbeth, Temple Church ★★★★☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 43 months ago

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The Not-So-Scottish Play: Macbeth At Temple Church Macbeth, Temple Church 4
Photo: Scott Rylander

One of the most refreshing things about Antic Disposition’s excellent Macbeth at Temple Church is that no-one sounds like David Tennant.

Directors Ben Horslen and John Risebero have taken their bloodstained knife to the Scottish Play to make it a more modern, more relevant psychological thriller.

Photo: Scott Rylander

There’s a fire and a fury to this version kindled by the dour magnetism of Harry Anton in an outstanding performance of the title role, but also in his charged sexual chemistry with Helen Millar’s Lady Macbeth, something you never got from years of dry interpretations at Stratford. As a more ambitious and avaricious power behind the throne, she’s like Evita steering Juan Perón.

Photo: Scott Rylander

The Weird Sisters, formerly witches, are given enhanced importance as observers of all the scenes, undertaking domestic chores in mob caps and aprons like the maids from Downton Abbey, but sharing their all-seeing prescience with the audience. It’s an attractive change which may well get replicated in the future.

Photo: Scott Rylander

Because the production will tour, it’s light on set and props but moods and spaces are suggested by James Burrows’ filmic sound design which underscores and punctuates the scenes with almost subliminal subtlety.

It takes wit and imagination to lift long-familiar Shakespeare performances above the level of ‘set text’ and to do it with a versatile cast of 10. Antic Disposition seem to be on cracking form, building on their previous successes in this venue with their lyrically beautiful Anglo-French Henry V.

Photo: Scott Rylander

This is not so poetic, or charming, but it’s full of intelligent energy.  What higher praise can you offer a theatre company than to say they make something four hundred years old seem new again?

Macbeth, Temple Church, Inner Temple, EC4. Tickets £20-40, until 7 September 2019.

Last Updated 27 August 2019