• Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


Unwilling to let Shakespeare’s play shuck off the responsibility for depicting the sociological implications of regicide in ancient Scotland, [director Peter Gill] fitted out his production with a throng of zombiesque creatures, identified in the program as “poor people,” and all looking mightily dispirited and put upon. They were dressed in overalls of fatigue grey, cut—perversely, it seemed to me—to suggest the uniforms of workers in a people’s republic. The hint of 1984 was extended by Mr. Gills second addition, a squad of near automatons, rigged out like modern riot police. The “poor people’ suffered throughout the play. It opened with them standing in a clump at center stage, looking terribly dejected… At the close, there they were again… They had been allowed a part in the dismemberment of the tyrant, and, judging by the blood on their mouths, they had done a thorough job of it… In truth, Mr. Gill’s conception of the play made life unheroic for Ian Hogg as Macbeth. His demons demoted, his preeminence in tyranny called into question, with sociological side-shows arranged to distract the audience, Mr. Hogg was in a difficult spot… Mr. Hogg was so disoriented by the directorial arrangements that he was often at a loss as to what to do with the words. As a result he acquiesced in his own diminution by speaking many of his lines, particularly parts of the famous speeches, with the careful pedestrian delivery of a man who is puzzling out a problem… [H]e dutifully gave us the Macbeth that the director wanted, a dwarfish thief incapable of filling out the giant s robe of Shakespeare’s language… I did not find Mr. Gill’s experiment much to my liking… I found it dramatically compelling to a degree that attempts at a more traditional Macbeth have not been. Redbearded and quick-eyed, Ian Hogg as Macbeth was a fox of a man, cunning and ferocious, believably vulnerable to his wife’s disparagement of his manhood, nastily dangerous when hounded or at bay.


Sound Effect Death Scene Tragic Hero Shakespeare Play Film Epic 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

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