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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021)

Macbeth was the first play I ever saw, more than forty years ago, in a local theatre with amateur, though enthusiastic, thespians. To be honest, it made little or no sense to me at the time and only in the studying of the words and the dozen or so versions of the play and screen adaptations that I have seen since have I really begun to understand Shakespeare's burgeoning imagination and swollen creativity.

"Something wicked this way comes."

Many will be moved to view this more by the players than by the story or its telling. This Apple production is sumptuous in it's minimalism and glaring in its visual style, but this is the same story and how well it is told is usually the only real difference between how each of these efforts are received. Coen's offering here is understated by design and largely by delivery also.

Denzel Washington does well with what he's given from Coen here and his two handers with McDormand are always intriguing if perplexing at times as despite her acting chops, you can see Hollywood mannerisms slipping out at times like an almost flawless accent punctuated by a one-word giveaway that can jolt you out of an immersion that is so necessary. Coen's adaptation also is either purposefully incorrect or simply careless on occasion. We can only hope it is the former.

The supporting cast are mostly brilliant, notably Bertie Carvel's Banquo, Alex Hassell's Ross and a delightful performance of Porter from Stephen Root, going to prove casting can sometimes be a pursuit of chance as much as skill or experience. Kathryn Hunt as the witches is breath-taking and provides such menace as only the main players can hope to achieve.

Overall, this is a highly anticipated and overly polished production that fails to fulfil its promise and under-delivers on its huge potential.

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