SYN FEATURES: Macbeth – National Theatre UK



by William Shakespeare

Filmed LIVE in HD, from the London Stage

11 July 2018, Cinema Nova, Carlton.

Words By Dana Hamilton.

Passes provided by publicists.



On Wednesday the 11th of July, the premiere live screening of The National Theatre’s production of Macbeth by William Shakespeare hit the screens of  Cinema Nova in Carlton. Performed at the Olivier Theatre in London, this is one of a series of live theatre pieces bought directly to international audiences through top-quality filming. Starring high-calibre actors such as Anne-Marie Duff and Rory Kinnear, this performance ran for just over two and a half hours including a twenty-minute interval.


Shakespeare’s Macbeth is by far one of the English-speaking world’s most renowned tragedies. And yet director Rufus Norris was able make this early story of ambition and survival, new. His vision to portray this tragedy amidst a dystopian post-war backdrop was inspired and well executed through the use of locomoting set mechanics and mismatched, ruinous costume. Prior to the commencement of the screening, a brief video interview portrayed Norris’ vision to incorporate the elements of struggle for survival and the pressure felt by individuals, including refugees, in conflict and war zones around the world today.

“A refreshing and poignant re-telling of a commonly told tragedy.”

Set designer Rae Smith set a rotating platform ramp that could be altered to portray different landscapes- a bridge, and passageway and the moor that the witches inhabit. The theme of conflict and struggle was evident in Moritz Junge’s intentionally scrappy, mismatched costumes and this reoccurring vein of hardship simply would not have succeeded without costume.


The sound design, by Paul Arditti  added much needed depth and suspense to this dystopian landscape. The melange of live instruments (bass clarinet, French horn, wind instruments) and pre-recorded sound to create eerie drowns and shrill mechanical scraping built the tension and created a deliberate feeling of uncomfortable anticipation amongst the audience; a clever and well-executed technique of audience emotional manipulation.


Kinnear’s portrayal as Macbeth was strong. His emotional journey from ambition to guilt was nuanced and not overdone. Duff’s personification of Lady Macbeth was, at times, a little exaggerated but her exposé of fear, chaos and panic was paramount. An acting highlight was Amaka Oafor’s portrayal of Lady Macduff. The motherly nature she brought to this role and her strong ability to react and not act made her character relatable, honest and raw.


The fight scenes were well crafted and clearly well rehearsed but could have been smoother in their execution. This being said, the fluidity of these fight sequences could have been lost through the ‘screen barrier’ that is created when we watch a recording of a live performance, rather than the live performance itself. The performance was well filmed, included many different camera angles and was well lit. However, I can’t help but feel that we lose a bit of the ‘magic’ of theatre when the camera angle on screen dictates what we see on stage. As far as accessibility of live theatre goes,  live screenings are a brilliant way to share theatre of exquisite quality to a larger audience,  who still has change leftover from their twenty-dollar note to treat themselves to a choc-top.

Macbeth is In cinemas from July 21.

SYN Features
Tags: , ,