Manchester Gets First Look at Sir Kenneth Branagh's Macbeth

Manchester Evening News, 28 June 2013

The unique arts event that is Manchester International Festival doesn’t officially start until Thursday, but one show in its calendar – that being 'Macbeth', with superstars Sir Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston as Shakespeare’s murderous king and queen – gets a headstart on Wednesday.

It sold out quicker than you could say ‘top secret venue’, and in response the festival added two special shows for Manchester people on July 3 and July 4… which obviously did the same thing.

Why? Well, at £65 a pop, you might imagine tickets would be at the top of most people’s price range, but this is Branagh in the role he has always longed to play performed first in Manchester for audiences of only a couple of hundred people.

Suddenly that ticket price looks a little more attractive...

The fact that tickets flew out of the box office, though, also reflects how far and wide the reputation of the festival has grown since it started in 2007. Now, tickets sell in dozens of international territories, bringing visitors to Manchester from more than 50 countries.

Not everything is sold out – and, indeed, not everything requires a ticket. There’s entertainment on in Albert Square all day every day, with pop up performances outside The Glass House bar, plus DJs spinning records in the teepee, and the various art events in the calendar are all free.

One is understandably loath to go into the prophecy business given the outcome of 'Macbeth', but a compelling performance from Branagh looks to be a reasonably safe prediction.

'Macbeth', at a venue to announced in Manchester city centre (0844 375 2017) 4 to 20 July. There will be a National Theatre Live broadcast on 20 July.

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