Photo courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity
Patrick Stewart is a tough act to follow, but Hipgnosis isn't afraid: they've plunged into the roughened seas of the Lower East Side with one of New York's first Macbeths since Rupert Goold brought Mr. Stewart and Kate Fleetwood to our fair city for a brief reign of terror. This is also probably the first Manhattan Macbeth since another foul, bloody reign ended and a new, unusually dark-skinned thane became the hopeful leader of a violent nation. Color-neutral, with the great Julian Rozzell in the title role, it seems especially appropriate today. We tend to think of the play as being about lust for and corruption of power, about tyranny, cruelty and comeuppance, but this production seems to stress the fate of Scotland as much as it does those of its individual characters. The Hipgnosis team has tapped Mr. Rozzell, a founding member and an actor of great range, magnetism, and subtlety, as Macbeth. Lanky and sinewy, he prowls and arches over the stage, which is actually a brightly lit pit like a wrestling ring. Under John Castro's straightforward direction the characters march simply from scene to scene, stolidly pushing Shakespeare's inexorable story towards its fated conclusion. Avoiding any temptation to bend Shakespeare out of shape for the sake of originality, the Hipgnosis group has realized a stirring, straight-up Macbeth.
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