Richard and I saw *Macbeth* on Broadway on May 20, 2022.
I was intrigued because the leads were played by Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, and it was directed by Sam Gold. I've seen and admired many pieces directed by Gold over the years - - I loved *Fun Home* (which won him the Tony) and *A Doll's House Part 2,* I was fascinated by *Hamlet* (at the Public with Oscar Isaac) and *King Lear* (on Broadway with Glenda Jackson), I didn't quite know how to feel about *The Glass Menagerie* (with Sally Field and Joe Mantello). I think Gold is at his best when he's doing a new piece. When he does something familiar, he can't fight the urge to do something wacko with it. I'm all for wacko but it has to WORK.
This, unfortunately, did not really work. The show started with one of the actors greeting the audience, talking about the Macbeth Curse, telling people to keep their masks on, etc. The show started, many actors came onstage. One of the actors was dragged in wrapped up in a tarp. Two other actors upwrapped him and positioned him with his head facing the audience. His feet slowly rose up, then his legs, and we came to realize that his boots were attached to a cable. Soon he was hanging upside down, four feet off the floor. One of the witches went over to him with a large knife and "cut his throat." It was an intense and enticing way to start the show.
It was downhill from there. The low point of the show was after the murder of Duncan - - the actor playing Duncan got up off the table on which he had been killed and walked to the front of the stage. The curtain came down behind him and he said (I'm paraphrasing), "Yeah, I've been killed. Big drag. Macbeth thinks things will improve for him now, but he's in for a surprise, right?" It really turned my stomach, this little monologue. It pulled us out of the show in a way that wasn't illuminating or rewarding. It was just dumb.
Daniel Craig was fully committed to the concept and really gave a performance but he was too intense and shouty. Shouting isn't drama, it's just loud, it's not a substitute for intensity. I told my friend Llu about this a few days later and he said, "They tell actors you should feel 10 but only show 7."
Ruth Negga, on the other hand, was supreme, head and shoulders above the rest of the cast. She had great facility with the language and she knew the value of stillness. She definitely made the show worth seeing and I really wish I had seen her Hamlet in Brooklyn a couple years ago. Hopefully I'll get to see her onstage again before too long.