something wicked this way comes

Recently in London I saw Alex, a one man show featuring Robert Bathurst from Cold Feet; Dealers Choice, a hilarious comedy on addiction to gambling and the most amazing production of Macbeth I've ever seen (at the West End's Gielgud Theatre).

Patrick Stewart starred as Macbeth, Kate Fleetwood as Lady Macbeth and they were joined by an incredible cast.  Patrick makes playing Shakespeare look easy, he seems to do very little but so so much at the same time: he has an enormous presence on stage.  The production is staged with so much clarity and emotional punch: the set is a cross between a bleak royal kitchen and a hospital; the witches make sense in a modern time, Stalin's Russia, as they appear a cross between maids and nurses.

The ending of director Rupert Goold's first half is a spine chilling climax taking you to the edge of your seat and literally standing the hair on the back of your neck: the banquet at which Banquo appears as a ghost is staged through Macbeth's eyes, so we actually see the blood-gouted horror.  After interval, the banquet is seen again through the eyes of the other guests: Macbeth appears to be screaming at thin air.

Images from this amazing production linger in my mind: clearly the best Shakespeare I've ever seen.  If only this wickedness would come this way, so Australian audiences could see it.

Links by IMDB.  Image by Chichester Festival Theatre.