REVIEW: Macbeth, Dock X London ✭✭✭✭

Paul T Davies reviews Macbeth with Ralph Fiennes now playing at Dock X in London.

Ralph Fiennes. Photo: Marc Brenner

Dock X, London
15 February 2024
4 Stars

Welcome to the war zone. Almost every production of MacBeth these days will reflect global conflict, and it’s certainly true here. The audience enter walking past burning cars, soldiers, sounds of helicopters flying overhead, it’s now a concept that has become almost traditional. But the real chaos begins in the auditorium, with eccentric seating arrangements, small lettering of seat numbers and a hugely confused audience. Allow yourself plenty of time to squeeze into the small, plastic and uncomfortable seats. The advantage is that the stage thrusts out and creates an intimate feel in the big arena.

Ben Allen. Photo: Marc Brenner

Ralph Fiennes is a magnificent Macbeth, showing the audience hidden ambition from the start, his delivery excellent, words like “assassination” singled out and shot into the auditorium. The destruction of his moral compass is perfectly portrayed, although I was less taken with his campy jokes, especially during the banquet scenes, but it fitted his increasing paranoia well. In fact, there are many moments of humour in the play, most of it wry, but some maybe unintentional, especially from Indira Varma’s Lady Macbeth, displaying her natural comic timing well, but her downfall appears less convincing. She puts forward the plot to kill Duncan a little too easily, but does capture her mental destruction, the hand washing scene is tremendously portrayed. Praise must go to Jonathan Case as an excellent Seyton, always there, always conniving, always surviving. As Banquo, Steffan Rhodri is a Celt of the earth, revelling in the language, his Welsh accent surfing the Bard with ease. Ben Turner is an excellent MacDuff, totally convincing in his grief, revenge radiating out of him.  In fact, it is a very good ensemble, and the three witches are woven into many scenes as witnesses, revelling in their destruction.

Ralph Fiennes and Indra Varna. Photo: Marc Brenner

Although the production offers no new insights, it whips along at a good pace, and the battles scenes are totally thrilling, with Burnham Wood coming through the auditorium, and suburb conflicts from fight director Kate Waters. Simon Godwin’s production fills the arena, and, with Fiennes being the main draw, does not disappoint.

Ben Turner. Photo: Marc Brenner
Lucy Mangan, Danielle Fiamanya and Lola Shalam. Photo: Marc Brenner
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