Joseph Millson as Macbeth at The Globe. 2013.
Yesterday I stood for three hours with my friends watching William Shakespeare’s Macbeth at The Globe Theatre in London. It’s the best five pounds I’ve ever spent, and the backache was minimal. It’s my third time visiting The Globe, but the first time I have not been seated for a performance.
I saw James McAvoy as Macbeth earlier in the year at the Trafalgar Studios and I didn’t think anyone could beat his portrayal. The direction of the play was phenomenal (See this blog post for a full account of the glory).
However, after seeing Macbeth performed in its traditional format, I am undecided about which version of the play I prefer. Jamie Lloyd’s transformation of the play’s setting in to a post-apocalyptic wasteland at The Trafalgar, was unique, and enhanced the cruelty of the action; but Eve Best’s understated, minimal setting at The Globe, was equally as impressive.
As for Macbeth himself, McAvoy was an absolute beast in the role, even in his moments of weakness; whereas Joseph Millson’s portrayal was more vulnerable, more guilt-ridden, more tragically human. I don’t think I can pick the better portrayal because both were fantastic in different ways.
I do feel Clair Foy’s Lady Macbeth was superior to Samantha Spiro’s, but as with the portrayals of Macbeth, both had their moments of genius. Spiro’s ‘spirits’ soliloquy was more intense than Foy’s, but overall I felt Foy’s portrayal was stronger.
I also felt that Forbes Mason’s, Banquo was not as strong as Billy Boyd’s. Boyd seemed to have more likeability, and his delivery was better; he was a superb ghost at the feast. He even opened the second act with a song, which charmed the entire Globe.
Although I have tried to justify which is the better production, I’ve decided that both were so powerful and entertaining that I’m just going to remember both with equal splendour. God Bless the Bard!