Magnificent 'Macbeth' at the Manchester International Festival

Winsford Guardian, 8 July 2013

When Iím old and living in a nursing home somewhere, Iíll probably be boring the staff sensless, regailing them with tales of the great theatre productions I reviewed over the years.

'Macbeth', currently playing at the Manchester International Festival, is sure to be on the list.

The mighty Kenneth Branagh has been something of a stranger to Shakespeare of late and this full blooded and captivating production, which he co-directs with Rob Ashford, reminds us what weíve been missing.

Branagh is a one man masterclass in menace as the Bardís tyrant king, corrupted by power and paranoia and ruthlessly getting rid of anyone who sees as a threat to his throne.

The scene in which Macbeth is confronted by the ghost of Banquo is particularly well done, with Branaghís entire frame paralysed by fear.

Behind this bad man is an equally bad woman, and itís impossible to imagine a better Lady Macbeth than the lovely Alex Kingston. We watch as she stokes up her husbandís ambition, before being finally being reduced to a babbling, incoherent wreck.

Kingston holds your attention and admiration in equal measure. The decision to set this dark and unsettling National Theatre Live production in a disused Manchester church was a masterstroke, allowing the audience to immerse themselves in a world ruled and ruined by unbridled tyranny.

Apparently the run is sold out and if you havenít got a ticket, youíve every reason to be very, very jealous of those who have. * Until July 20.

Star rating - ***** If you fancy trying to get hold of any returns call 0844 375 2013 or visir

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