Any solo adaptation must work overtime to escape the obvious suspicions of arrogance and persuade the viewer that it's actually doing something worthwhile with the piece rather than just providing the performer with a handy tour de force. Rob Inglis has a magnificent, resonant voice and knows how to use it, but it's not as nimble as he could wish it. Compressing all of Shakespeare's blood and thunder into an hour means hopping and skipping between a minimum of seven or eight characters, and Inglis's vocal richness turns out also to be his undoing; he can't vary his timbre enough, and is forced to rely either on simplistic gimmicks (the Thane of – Jonathan? – Woss's impediment, for instance) or over-reductive characterisations such as that which turns Malcolm into a kind of schoolboy ingenu.
The use of a taped Sheila Reid as Lady Macbeth might be expected to help, but no sound operator could match artificially the speed required for several key exchanges, and performer and audience alike grow impatient for the next cue. I've no doubt that Inglis's unabridged 53-hour recording of The Lord Of The Rings is a consummate work, and he'd be an enormous asset in any company, but in Macbeth he's bitten off a bit more than he can chew, and put too much of the rest into the blender.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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