"Dark destructive tale of corruption"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 29/09/19

The final production of Chichester’s 2019 Festival is William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, the great tragedy that follows the damaging and intoxicating effects of power that lead to corruption and destruction.

After triumphing in battle Macbeth and Banquo come face to face with three witches who foretell that Macbeth will one day become King and Banquo’s sons will also be kings. Lady Macbeth is determined that her husband shall fulfil his destiny and urges him to murder the King of Scotland while he is sleeping. However, their deadly prophecy escalates uncontrollably as power, guilt and ambition collide with corruption, chaos and slaughter.

Making his directorial debut in Chichester (his home town) Director Paul Miller (now Artistic Director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond) has united John Simm and Dervla Kirwan once more to play husband and wife. Designer Simon Daw has created a stunning set for this dark and sinister classic, using a large circular glass-floored stage that allows for much contemporary technology achieving some spectacular and hauntingly atmospheric flames, hugely theatrical banqueting scene and emotional video projections in particular.

The three Witches Roseanna Frascona, Leah Gayer and Lauren Grace brilliantly inhabited the eerily, unearthly Weird Sisters. Their evocative dancing and menacing predictions around their bubbling cauldron were some of the highlights of the production. Dervla Kirwan, who needs no introduction with so many successes on stage, screen and tv, shone as the powerful, manipulating Lady Macbeth. Eminently watchable as her charismatic presence goads her husband’s manhood leading to his ultimate and shocking downfall. Equally well-known John Simm takes the mammoth, challenging role of Macbeth, facing moral deterioration and mental instability in his increasing isolation as he loses touch with reality – paying a high price in his pursuit of power.

The production is at times somewhat under whelming and lacks a certain dramatic tension but that said this much anticipated Festival finale is a visually impressive drama of psychological decay on an epic scale.

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