McAvoy's 'Mad Max' Macbeth is 'noisy, urgent and populist'

Feb 27, 2013

X-Men star McAvoy unlocks the riches of the Scottish play for newcomers to Shakespeare

What you need to know
A new production of Shakespeare's Macbeth, starring James McAvoy, launches Jamie Lloyd's tenure as producer/director at the Trafalgar Studios, London.

Macbeth tells the story of the destructive psychological and political fallout that results when Macbeth assassinates the king to fulfil his own ambitions for power. Instead of ancient Scotland, Lloyd sets this production in a post-apocalyptic world.

James McAvoy, best known for his films The Last King of Scotland and X-Men: First Class, is Macbeth. Claire Foy (Little Dorrit and White Heat) appears as his wife and co-conspirator Lady Macbeth. Production runs until 27 April.

What the critics like
Lloyd has created "a noisy, urgent, populist" version of this perennially watchable play, says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. McAvoy's Macbeth, taking its main reference from Mad Max, "is a warrior through and through".

McAvoy gives a "gripping, no-holds-barred performance", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. It will impress fans of X-Men and unlock some of "the poetic and psychological riches of the play" for youthful newcomers to Shakespeare.

Lloyd's Macbeth "packs a powerful punch", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. McAvoy "thrillingly suggests a man on the rack of his own guilty mind" in this "gripping and genuinely startling production".

What they don't like
This Macbeth tries too hard to be "the Scottish play", says Ian Shuttleworth in the Financial Times. It's "awash with rolling R's", and "everyone dresses like a bunch of Mad Macs", but it seems more like a biased vision of Scotland "imposed from south of the border".

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