Review / ‘Macbeth’ (MA) ***

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MacBethIN my late teens, I carried a spear in a Brisbane production of Shakespeare’s Scottish play. Within five years, the young men who played Macbeth and Macduff were both dead. Superstition is alive, well and perhaps a tad scary!

The Internet Movie Database lists 94 moving-image productions of the play. Writers Jacob Koskoff and Michael Lesslie have given Shakespeare’s text a buzz cut for Australian director Justin Kurzel.

I mourn the omissions – the comicality of “husband’s to Aleppo gone”, “nose painting, sleep and urine”, “rump-fed ronyon”, the angry despair of Lady Macbeth’s plucking of her nipple from her child’s toothless gums.

Lady M rather than the king speaks the “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” soliloquy, although the change doesn’t diminish its force. The way to dusty death beckons us all.

The actors playing the adult men are bewhiskered beyond recognition. Michael Fassbender plays Macbeth, David Thewlis is Duncan, Sean Harris is Macduff, Paddy Considine is Banquo.

Marion Cotillard’s portrayal of Lady Macbeth takes no harm from her slight residual French accent and Elizabeth Debicki is a poignant Lady Macduff tied to a stake with her children waiting for Macbeth to light their pyre.

Kurzel’s sombre lighting of the action matches the drama. The Isle of Skye provides bleak exteriors.

You’d never call the play a bundle of laughs, but you must remember it was written for an audience clamouring for blood and death. Its modern audience is less easy to categorise.

At Palace Electric

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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