Macbeth review – Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga soar but there’s magic missing squib

Longacre Theater, New York

Sam Gold’s inventively staged take on the classic tragedy has its moments but there’s something missing at the centre

For tragedy to really tear your heart out, it has to feel preventable. What if Juliet’s messenger had arrived on time? What if Othello had trusted his wife? What if Caesar had just stayed home that day and caught up on the latest papyrus? Watching the brisk, mordant Broadway revival of Macbeth, which stars a muscled, de-Bonded Daniel Craig, you might entertain another what-if: what if medieval Scotland had maximally effective therapy?

Sam Gold’s production performed on a seemingly bare stage, designed by Christine Jones and lit, thrillingly – in shocking blues, reds and greens – by Jane Cox. It begins with a precis of attitudes toward early modern witchcraft, delivered, drolly, by Michael Patrick Thornton. An incantation follows. A cast member (Danny Wolohan, later to endure worse) is hung upside down in an inverted cross while other members stir a bubbling pot with suspiciously red contents. Is that smell garlic? Or something more sinister? Still, this swift, savvy Macbeth never winds its charm too tightly; only rarely does it feel unearthly.

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