Macbeth at the National Theatre Live last night was superb. A thrilling, impressive production and in an amazing set since it was performed in a deconsecrated church in Manchester that much added to the haunting and ghostly atmosphere of the play.
It was an unforgettable performance by Sir Kenneth Branagh, who is one of my favourite Shakespearean actors and in fact the one responsible for my first cinematic experience of the Shakespeare: his now classic 1995 film production of Henry V. Although I find his Macbeth impressive and deeply disturbing for the warm and capacity to generate empathy he brought to the role, I confess that I am not entirely convinced by his delivery of ‘Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow’. I found it somehow too ‘theatrical’ and lacking in psychological depth. Perhaps my negative reaction to it comes from comparing his delivery to Sir Ian McKellen’s one in Trevor Nun’s production , which is still for me the benchmark for all productions of the play. Apart from that, I found he’s performance a delight for the way he manages to bring the lines to life with all nuances of feelings and emotions we can connect to.
It would not be fair to compare Alex Kingston to Dame Judy Dench though, and I think she performed brilliantly as Lady Macbeth. She is a woman fueled by ambitions that consumes herself in the fire of her own unregulated passions. Hail!