top of page
  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

Macbeth Review- Shakespeare's Globe Summer 2023

Directed by Abigail Graham

Shakespeare's Globe

Set in a post-apocalyptic/plague world, this production of Macbeth was hauntingly barren and sterile. The design concept really leaned into the idea of Birnam Wood and chopped-down trees, both as a nod that their role in the play, but also as a commentary on how war affects the environment and to reflect the barren feelings of grief and death. The Witches were costumed in a blend of modern hazmat suits and Renaissance plague masks/vulture faces, which drew striking parallels between both our post-pandemic world and the plague-ridden world in which Shakespeare lived.

Max Bennett's Macbeth was uniquely energized and frenetic, imagine a frat boy who matured and went on to be a military commander. He was extremely charismatic and charming to watch, and simultaneously deranged and powerful. His interpretation was different than anything I've ever seen before, and I really appreciated his fresh take on the role! Matti Houghton as Lady Macbeth was wonderful. Her stillness contrasted beautifully with Max's frenetic energy. During the opening 'business' of the play, it was symbolically implied that the couple had lost a child prior to the events of the play, and this is an interpretation that I agree with. I think it's supported by the text in multiple places that Lady M is not a mother and that the Macbeths have suffered a loss of a child at some point. This choice specifically informed the way in which Max's Macbeth interacted with the various children of the play.

I didn't love how the deaths of Macduff's family were treated. I don't think the creative team handled it with enough sensitivity or depth, like it deserves. It's an incredibly dark moment and I just don't think a birthday balloon or bubble gun should've been on stage. I also felt as if some of the verse fell flat and the poetry got away from the cast a bit, but nothing too jarring.

The Globe's space creates a really interesting audience dynamic, and this production was no different. During this performance, I watched a young girl almost pass out after Macbeth returned to the stage with his hands covered in blood, the audience all look behind them believing they'll see the same dagger Macbeth does, and the audience laughing at really inappropriate moments, such as the brutal murder of a child. These behaviors might seem grossly inappropriate in the modern day etiquette of going to the theatre, but it's actually not that far off from what going to see a play at the Globe in Shakespeare's day would've been like. Elizabethan audiences were rowdy and rude, and it's interesting to see the ways in which the Globe today fosters these reactions.

My absolute favorite part of the production was the Witches. Through doubling and the use of costuming (specifically masks), the Witches took the driver's seat when it came to the action. It was as if they were directly involved in ensuring their prophecies came to fruition- I found this so incredibly interesting to watch. At least one of them was present in almost every scene, and they would cart bodies across the stage on operating tables as the body count rose. At one point they even put the-very-much-alive Macbeth in a body bag. Crazy. The banquet scene was wild, a roast pig was revealed to be the body of Banquo (only to Macbeth's eyes, of course).

All in all, this was by far my favorite production of the Globe's Summer 2023 season!

4 views0 comments


bottom of page