Macbeth starring James McAvoy – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of reviews of Macbeth starring James McAvoy at the Trafalgar Studios in London.

James McAvoy and Claire Foy in Macbeth
James McAvoy and Claire Foy in Macbeth

The reviews are in for Macbeth at the Trafalgar Studios, the first production of ex-Donmar associate director Jamie Lloyd’s new company. Acclaimed actor James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland, Atonement) stars as Shakespeare’s Macbeth alongside Claire Foy as Lady Macbeth.

Olivier Award winner Jamie Lloyd directs this nihilistic vision of chaos, played out with breathless momentum and visceral passion. Jamie Lloyd’s production sees Shakespeare’s darkest tale play out in a dystopian Scotland brutalised by war. Under a toxic fog, Macbeth begins his tormented struggle for power fuelled by ambition and paranoia. Set to be the hottest ticket of the year.

Read reviews of Macbeth, below, from The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent, Express and more.


Book tickets to Macbeth starring James McAvoy at the Trafalgar Studios in London

Average rating score for this production


"For my taste, the production is a wee bit over-the-top but there are sequences where it achieves an extraordinary thematic penetration."

"McAvoy thrillingly suggests a man on the rack of his own guilty mind who learns that the only way to secure his position and silence his conscience is to become inured to atrocity with further killings. He also does full justice to the haunting poetry of the last act in which Macbeth realises just what he has lost - not least himself and any sense of purpose or meaning in life. It is the reason that Macbeth is a genuinely tragic character and not just a serial killer."

"For all its hectic quality, there is much to savour in this production. McAvoy is exciting to watch. Claire Foy, although costumed like a garage mechanic, conveys Lady M's increasing isolation from her husband and even gives an involuntary shudder when he chillingly says of Banquo and his son: "They are assailable.""

"In these close-up quarters this noisily urgent, intensely violent production is a furious blast of murder and mayhem in which one man and his wife's desperate, corrosive pursuit of power at any cost ignites a reign of terror."

"Lloyd's vision has integrity but I missed any sense of nobility. From the start, the Macbeths are abject, with no distance to fall – it makes them less tragic. I yearned for the criminal glamour at the play's heart. Macbeth never rises above big-booted butchery. He's an axeman who keeps acquiring extra meat cleavers. And, in keeping with the evening's visceral spirit, the poetry is, too often, minced – a further casualty in the pile-up."

"This is the first of a season of plays for which Lloyd and the Ambassador Theatre Group have reconfigured the larger of the Trafalgar Studios. The atmosphere is more intimate than before, and also more versatile — with characters entering and exiting at 16 different points. It’s a welcome overhaul for this somewhat tricky space, and Lloyd launches his tenure with a noisy, urgent, populist account of this perennially watchable play."

"It all felt a bit studenty, but that may be because I went on Monday night, when the auditorium (admirably) is being given over to teenagers. They kept laughing at the gushings of red stuff, just as they chortled when James McAvoy’s Macbeth was so overcome by revulsion at his misdeeds that he was sick in a lavatory. The lavatory bowl was parked at the side of the stage, visible throughout. Mr McAvoy, like the rest of the show, is full-on from the start. Boy, it’s shouty. The witches utter their lines with gas masks over their faces. They sound like Darth Vader."

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