Published in the Guardian
WE are in a relentlessly masculine landscape. The towering, grey
edifice of Kenny Miller's set looms over an all-male cast dressed in
muted colours, their clothes looking as bruised as their battle-worn
faces. Even the witches in Rachel O'Riordan's formidable production are
played by men. Gaunt, angular, hard as nails – they are weird sisters
Keith Fleming's Macbeth is tough, plain-speaking and austere,
which is why Leila Crerar's Lady Macbeth makes such an impression when
she appears in an off-white shawl, bathed in the glow of Kevin Treacy's
majestic lighting. She is – and will remain – the only woman on stage.
is also arrestingly young. Swinging her bare legs in the air, Crerar's
Lady Macbeth is a child on the cusp of womanhood, one for whom
adolescent thrill-seeking rather than steely forward planning drives her
ambition. She can be stern, but she can also be carelessly superficial.
Crerar says the line about being made bold by drink like a teenager who
is giddily under the influence.
Until Lady Macbeth's mental
health deteriorates, Crerar's flippancy contrasts sharply with Fleming's
sober thane. Wild eyed and sweet voiced, he is as uncomfortable with
his accumulating power as he is with his bloody crimes. He is a man
possessed, and distressed, by some bigger force. When the final
assessment – that he was a tyrant and she a "fiend-like queen" – comes,
it rings false. These Macbeths are less sociopaths than impulsive
victims of circumstance.
Both stars give lucid, driven
interpretations, but the show is not theirs alone. O'Riordan brings
forth clear and intelligent performances across the board. From the
magnetic stillness of Richard Conlon's Ross to the bottled-up bitterness
of Michael Moreland's Banquo, they seem not so much angry as sadly let
down by the once-golden couple.
© Mark Fisher 2013
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