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Macbeth (2013)

National Theatre Live: Macbeth (original title)
As Macbeth rides home from battle three witches stop him. They tell him that he will soon rise in power, first becoming Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. King Duncan has just ... See full summary »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
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Mentieth
Elliot Balchin ...
Nari Blair-Mangat ...
Norman Bowman ...
Ross
...
Charlie Cameron ...
Rosalie Craig ...
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...
Third Murderer
Patrick Neil Doyle ...
Laura Elsworthy ...
...
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Macduff's Messenger
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Porter
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Storyline

As Macbeth rides home from battle three witches stop him. They tell him that he will soon rise in power, first becoming Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. King Duncan has just pronounced Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, and Macbeth realizes the witches were telling the truth. Macbeth's wife convinces him to kill Duncan when he stays with them and Macbeth does. He blames Duncan's guards for the murder and kills them before they can speak. Duncan's sons flee the country, Malcolm to England and Donalbain to Ireland. Macbeth rules like a tyrant, and kills anyone in his way, including Macduff's family when he can't find Macduff. Macduff goes to England where Malcolm with the help of the English king is preparing to overthrow Macbeth. Lady Macbeth has gone insane from the guilt of killing King Duncan and in the end commits suicide. Macbeth fights to the bitter end and is killed by Macduff.

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20 July 2013 (UK)  »

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Macbeth  »

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16:9 HD
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Known to most actors as "that Scottish play" due to the "bad luck" of saying the title out loud. See more »

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User Reviews

An engaging and accessible performance, with only one or two things I didn't like
5 October 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Although I have watched quite a reasonable amount of Shakespeare, I realized recently that I have tended to stay to the couple of main works that I know at least a little, and there were plenty I have not seen. Watching through film versions of the sonnets is part of addressing this, but it surprised me that I do not think I have ever seen Macbeth in any form. I know the basic plot, but mainly that is because I have read critics referencing someone as being like Macbeth or lady Macbeth, so my extension I know how they are. To remedy this I got hold of this National Theatre performance featuring Kenneth Branagh in the title role.

The delivery is filmed in a sort of theatre; I'm not sure where it was but the audience sit on both sides and the back of the stage is laid out like the front of a church. Most of the action occurs in front of this, on a long muddy strip of floor which links to the Scottish moors (even if it occasionally seems out of place in some scenes). The effect is really good, including rain effects at one point; I like the lack of stage in particular, putting everything almost in a pit. The plot unfolds as I sort of knew, although with details and lines that I was not aware of. The performances hold the space really well; Branagh is very strong in the lead and his performance aided my understanding of the words a great deal. He is well supported by Fearon's Macduff, as well as others such as Doyle and Yuill to name only a few. Kingston got a lot of praise for her performance, but for me it was mixed. At first her performance is balanced well, but later she is more manic – and not always in a way that fits the material or character. In particular I found her final scene in the dream-state to be over-the-top and almost comical in her dramatic body movements and facial expressions. The three sisters I found hard to understand at times – not sure if this was them or the acoustics of the filming.

Running only at 2 hours, this version is very well done. I found it accessible in terms of understanding the characters and interactions, with the dialogue easier to understand thanks to the performances which are generally both expressive but also helpful to the viewer. The set is unusual but as I settled into the idea, I enjoyed it more. Kingston was the only thing for me that didn't work – but like I say, it was really only that last scene where I felt she pushed things too much over-the-top.


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