Macbeth, Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Wils Wilson (2023).

On Friday we saw Macbeth at the RSC (the Wils Wilson production with a completely Scottish cast). I liked some things about it and disliked others: it was a mixed bag, but an enjoyable evening overall. I should say that Duncan and Banquo were played by women (Therese Bradley and Anna Russell-Martin, respectively) and the original Thane of Cawdor, we were led to understand, was female. This problematised several things about Macbeth including his courage on the battlefield (and, as Mark Lawson has pointed out, in a world where women could seize power, why would Lady Macbeth need to push her husband towards kingship?)

These annoyances aside, the witches were gratifyingly disturbing (one actor was substituted and I don’t have her name but the other two were Amber Sylvia Edwards and Dylan Read). They emerged from what looked like boils that bubbled up on the stage. Atmospheric music: tubas, a trombone, sousaphone, bagpipes etc., combined with murmurings of Scottish Gaelic made for a disturbing soundscape. Curiously, the “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” speech was interrupted and Reuben Joseph had to start it again, though his glaring was so terrifying as to seem totally in character. I couldn’t quite see what happened, but the groundlings must have been misbehaving.