The Globe Theatre has been transformed into a mediaeval vision of hell, the ranks of the damned surround a pit that appears to contain just the heads of those already condemned poking out through a black void.  Bagpipes screech as the mutilated and bloodied bodies of the wartorn and tortured rise writhing and groaning out of the darkness. Three gurning, deformed and pockmarked witches, with long noses and no teeth,  two of them dwarves, run  amok among those consigned to everlasting damnation. A hugely obese and grotesque watchman pees in the corner and then makes to throw the contents of the bucket into the crowd.   Soldiers cut out the disgraced Cawdor’s tongue and throw the bloody morsel into the pit.  There are screams and squeals as those, who bought tickets to stand in the pit, cringe and duck. 

Ordure, ordure!   This is audience participation on a horrific scale; the way Shakespeare might have done it. 

Dark-age Scotland is a nightmarish, brutal world, a land of shocking barbarity and turbulence where Kings are  overthrown vioently every six or seven years.  Macbeth is a monster in hell.  His vanityand ambition are so great that he dares to kill the King, who was not only a guest under his roof but also an agent of God on Earth.  He risks all for power.  He sells his soul only to discover the horrifying banality of existence.   

Lucy Bailey, the director, has gone for realism.  Eliot Cowan as Macbeth is ruthless in his quest for power but disintegrates into paranoid, tormented tyrant.  The banal horror of his actions are reflected in the shock of  degradation on stage.  It is a Heironymous Bosche vision of hell; slaughter, mutilation, pissing, fucking, shitting, wanking, terror and madness. 

Laura Rogers’ Lady Macbeth is more manipulative than her husband.  She’s the sex bomb of Scotland; charming, seductive and deadly.  Together they are a golden couple, like the Kennedys.  They cannot fail; they have such remarkable sexual energy.  But she is possessed with a lust for power and celebrity that can only be realised through her husband.  She is playing with the fires of hell  and has no thought for the consequences. 

So she goads her husband to murder Duncan,  but recoils from him when she witnesses the deadly ruthlessness of the  ambition, she has released.  She slowly loses her mind and then takes her life, but Macbeth is drowning so far in blood, he does not notice.  The real horror of the play is not so much the destruction of  Duncan or Banquo or even MacDuff’s wife and children but the corruption that gnaws away the heart of this star-crossed marriage.  

 This play pivots, like souls in hell, around the personalities of the weird sisters; damaged, tormented, victimised women, whose only satisfaction is to torture and corrupt others.  Macbeth is at the top of fortune’s wheel, ripe to pluck down.  They recognise him as one of their own and must claim him. The rest is inevitable.

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