Branagh Stars in MacBeth

British actor Sir Kenneth Branagh is to star in his first on stage Shakespeare role for 11 years, to the widespread acclaim of critics and fans alike. The famous actor will perform the play in a 281 capacity deconsecrated church in Manchester on Saturday July 20th, as part of the Manchester International Festival.

Written by Chris White

Upon being informed of the spectacular comeback, one of the more harsher Guardian critics Michael Billington commented: “The highest compliment I can pay him is that at times he evoked golden memories of Olivier in the role.”

The new production starts with a bloody battle scene, drenched in rain, where armour-clad medieval knights clash with sparks flying as their blades touch.

The ‘stage’, which essentially consists of a trough fitted longwise down the nave of the church is filled with mud, with audience members seated either side on benches.

Needless to say ticket holders are being warned by the play’s directors not to don their “best, light coloured or dry-clean onlies” for the occasion, lest they be spattered with prop mud.

Writing in The Guardian, theatre critic Michael Billington said: “We seem to be in the thick of the rain-soaked, mud-spattered opening battles. This is an exciting production that shows why Branagh is such a fine Shakespearean actor.

He can do the soaring vocal cries but he is also sensitive to the minutiae of language. Branagh will convey the desolation and despair of a man who has sold his soul only to be confronted by the hollowness of tyrannical power.”

Writing in The Telegraph another theatre critic Dominic Cavendish referred to the upcoming play as: “A thrilling, cinematically fluid account of Macbeth that doesn’t hold back in plunging us into the harrowing grime of battle. As the earthy playing-area turns into a bog, as drums beat and swords clash, something stirs in the memory. Oh yes, Shakespeare can be really exciting, can’t he?

Sir Kenneth shows us the vestigial civilisation beneath the martial exterior, this is a Macbeth, though, that won’t just go down as a highlight of the Manchester International Festival but as one of the Scottish Play’s great revivals. It’s a phoenix-like feather in the cap of Sir Ken, too, comeback Shakespearean king.”

Tickets for the play have sold our however, the performance will be televised live to hundreds of theatres around the World as part of the National Theatre’s NT Live broadcasts policy.

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