The interest in Shakespeare will never wane and with this Lazarus Theatre Company production directed by Ricky Dukes and starring Jamie O’Neill in the title role, superbly assisted by David Clayton as MacDuff, Lewis Davidson as a striking Banquo and Alice Emery as Lady Macbeth and a fine ensemble, the scene is set for mayhem and electrifying action.
The setting is not 11th Century Scotland but what appears to be a boardroom. A grey room lacking in any warmth or comfort with a very bright, almost blinding neon light creating a sinister atmosphere where people can plan the worst – and the time frame is modern day.
Dukes has directed a stunning and accessible version where it is clear the focus is not only on the frantic action and the heavy use of symbolism, but on the delivery of the Bard’s dialogue which is smooth and calm. The poetic quality associated with Shakespeare is not lost.
It is in fact enhanced by a cast – especially in O’Neill – that have a very firm grasp on the speed of the delivery and where, when required, raised emphasis is needed. Macbeth is dark, a brooding story of lust, revenge, murder, double dealings and treachery and this is where Dukes has been clever. Gone are the period costumes, his cast are City slickers, corporate soldiers wearing crisp over ironed white shirts, black liquorice ties, smart tight trousers and even polished shoes. This is Dallas and Dynasty.
There is a modern majesty to this production with its very assertive look at how power struggles are played out and who gets to be the ‘thane’ – a royal official – an Earl and then the King whose position was engineered and orchestrated by women, notably Lady Macbeth. A complete femme fatale.
The male chemistry between the characters is strong; both physical and, I would even suggest, a repressed sexual urge. There are torsos on display, rippling six packs and an urgency to assert an air of masculinity that is so apt to the story.
The creation of these concise characters merged with the precise production values added to the pure inventiveness of this version of Macbeth – and Lazarus as a company continue to offer a visionary look at staging classic works. Very interesting and also absolutely authentic.
Photos by Adam Trigg