Double trouble: death, drugs and dancing daggers in two new Macbeths | Stage



Two new versions of Macbeth march to a very different beat but music pulses at the heart of both. In Paul Hart’s production at the Watermill, Newbury (?????), an eclectic range of pop music is performed live on stage and bursts through the seams of almost every scene and every bleeding syllable. The result is a show that burns with purpose, passion and energy to spare. The music in Proteus’s touring production (?????) feels less vital. Pop songs blare out of the speakers at various pivotal moments but it is background sound and fury, signifying little.

For Proteus, director Mary Swan has taken one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest plays and fairly awkwardly plonked it in the midst of the 1980s stock market. In this new context, King Duncan becomes a flashy fund manager, played with an interesting whiff of seediness by Danny Charles; his son Malcolm is now a suited female assistant (Jessica Andrade), frantically taking calls and racing after her boss. A ticker tape runs across the back of the stage, lit up with trading numbers: the Duncan and Scott stock is on the rise. For now.