Bell's Macbeth Shakesphere Review

Essay by sungkwo April 2008

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The Bell Shakespeare production of Macbeth, directed by John Bell, takes on an unusual setting to the play, but without doubt it falls short, lacking real substance, but full of bells and whistles. Although the play is not a disastrous performance in any sense, it fails to engage the audience and ultimately leaves an unsatisfying impression of the play.

Bell’s production of the play is set approximately a thousand years later, in the midst of a battlefield. The setting is rather convincing with its decent costuming and the stage design, which cleverly incorporates ruined electronically appliances, which is striking to the eye. However this non-traditional setting only subtracts from the play. Some of the elements of the play just do not fit in with the dialogue, while some of the characters seemed less convincing, such as Duncan who was a benevolent king in military dictator’s clothes. Also another problem with this war themed setting is that they let the actors stay on the side of the stage, which was distracting from the actionThe biggest problem of the play however is the tweaking of the story.

Bell’s production of the play turns Macbeth from a fallen hero into an outsider. Although this may seem a good idea as it enhances the evil side of Macbeth, it also means that we see Macbeth as a distant character. Paired with the absence of action of the final seen, all we feel is a great deal of apathy when Macbeth is finally killed, feeling no sympathy or contempt as he falls.

However the members of the cast gave reasonable performances. I thought that Macduff was a big standout of the play, as his passion and his intensity throughout the play helped the audience connect with the character. Both Lady Macbeth and Malcolm...