Review Round Up: Macbeth, National Theatre

Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff  star as the Macbeths in this new production directed by Rufus Norris. But what have the critics had to say about it? 

MacbethRoyal National Theatre London
(c) Brinkhoff Mogenburg.

The Times: “This production looks terrific. Shame about the directorial gimmicks and anaemic leads”

WhatsOnStage: * “This production is a misjudged mess, a horror show in all the wrong ways, and a terrible waste of the acting talents of Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff.”

The Guardian: ** “But, while the production is vigorously staged, it squeezes the play into a rigid concept and in the process sacrifices its tonal contrasts and mysterious poetry.”

i News: *** “Kinnear is not at his finest as Macbeth. We see the shock – after he kills Duncan, it is a physical reaction – but we never really see the steel. It’s a performance overwhelmed by the quirk that surrounds it.”

The Independent: *** “Where Norris’s production excels, however, is in atmosphere and visuals. It’s dark.”

The Telegraph: ** “Yet despite committed performances from Kinnear and Duff, neither are seen to their best advantage.”

Jonathan Baz Reviews: *** “the Bard’s beautiful prose is overburdened by Norris and designer Rae Smith’s contemporary interpretations.”

Variety: “In embracing the play’s chaos, swirling murder and supernatural powers, Norris only succeeds in making it feels shapeless.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Rory Kinnear plays Macbeth as the-bloke-down-the-pub, making some of the most famous monologues in the history of well, theatre, sound as dramatically intense as a food order.”

London *** “But the scale of the production also mitigates against the domestic intensity of much of the drama, which often unfolds in monologue as Macbeth and Lady M wrestle so desperately with their own consciences.”

Evening Standard: ** “There’s no compelling new take here on Shakespeare’s interest in questions of tyranny and masculinity, and the result is oddly flat — an austerity Macbeth that meanders gloomily and gorily.”

The FT: *** “I yield to none in my admiration for Kinnear, yet here he is if anything surpassed by Anne-Marie Duff as Lady Macbeth. From first reading hubby’s letter about the witches’ predictions until her final somnambulistic disintegration, she makes every word vibrate with high-tension significance.”

Time Out: ** “Toss in some baffling cuts to the text that don’t seem to serve much purpose beyond wrestling the running time down a bit and you’re stuck with a big, blasted mess of a show.”

Broadway World: ** “Norris’s production (which shed half an hour in previews) certainly offers some memorable moments, but overall, if we are to understand the tragedy of this terrible choice, we have to see the alternative – the better world, the soul, that Macbeth destroys. Otherwise it feels like he’s doomed either way.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “Rather stronger, both visually and aurally, are the play’s supernatural elements. As Macbeth and Banquo first encounter the three witches, Paul Arditti’s haunting sound designs suggest the heath is full of magical creatures and they have met just one small sliver.”

The Upcoming: ** “It’s clear this production is nothing more than a financially safe bet, seemingly announced before having any artistic reason to exist. What’s worrying is that even with the bar lowered to that fairly depressing level, this Macbeth is yet another serious Olivier stinker on Norris’s watch.”

A Younger Theatre: “A hearty attempt that is technically and visually astounding, but lacks the true vim that Macbeth demands. More of a bad trip for a middle-aged group at Glasto, than a disturbing tale of murder, madness and regret.”

Radio Times: *** “If it rarely reaches the kind of visceral horror you hope for, there’s still plenty to dread, and clarity of delivery and line-reading that makes the text sing.”

The Daily Mail: ** “Childish, tokenistic, muddled, this show is laughably unmoving. They splosh round masses of Kensington gore but it manages to be bloodless. Feeble.”

Theatre Bubble: *** “However it is the text’s underlying strength, together with a stellar cast, that ultimately redeems this particular version.”

Macbeth plays at the National Theatre until the 23rd June. For more information and to book tickets visit:


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