Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here

Three male dancers perform Company Chordelia & Solar Bear’s Lady Macbeth: Unsex Me Here choreographed by Kally Lloyd-Jones and cast. Being three, this is a nod to the witches, and that these Lady Macbeths are possessed by evil: cue howling winds, cawing ravens and the wish to be ‘unsexed’. This production has it all: melodrama to the hilt (literally), blood, babies’ skulls bashed out, wringing hands and madness. What could go wrong?

All three dancers are superb but this flawed production does not do them justice.

It depends how much melodrama you can take. Subtlety is not this show’s strength. The psychological insight and wonderful balance of theatre and dance in Company Chordelia’s previous production Nijinsky’s Last Jump, led to high expectations but sadly this current offering is disappointing.

The decision to include British Sign Language is laudable and also honours the fact that one of the dancers, Jacob Casselden, is deaf though his dancing is equal to the other two. However, too much miming and in-your-face clawing, even a forefinger and little finger raised in the devil’s sign just look clunky.

There appears to be no justification for having three dancers. The choreography does not explore the dynamics, and there is no psychological depth added. One can see the usefulness when two jump out of role and play the sleeping grooms and only one Lady daubs them with blood. Incidentally, Lady M shows horror at the blood on her hands. Whoops, that was Macbeth, wasn’t it, in the play? Having Lady Macbeth morph into Macbeth only once in the production, was obviously a step too far, but it does lose the contrast with Shakespeare’s Lady M’s steeliness here in contrast to her mental deterioration later. Again at the end when one Lady lies dead on the ground, the other two wash her corpse then very strangely, the corpse jumps up and swops with one of the servants, to be carried out by the other two creating a ludicrous effect.

At the start, the three men apply makeup in booths with rounded light bulbs suggesting a backstage dressing room. Maybe this is a hint that just as theatre is pretence or role-playing, so are gender roles, but this significance is not explored in depth. In Shakespeare’s times, women’s parts were played by males and so in the 400th anniversary of his death, it must have seemed an inspired choice to cast males, but putting on makeup and red skirts does not turn these men into women, nor does it illuminate the nature of femininity versus masculinity.

Much is made of the Lady Macbeth’s rocking a babe in arms (which later is tellingly revealed to be a bundle of stones). Although in Shakespeare the Macbeths have no children, this production’s interpretation rests on the link between horror at killing a baby and Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness. It begs the question that femininity equals maternity (and I can hear the howl of feminists at this slur to childless women). That said, this is a convincing re-telling and justifies departing from Shakespeare. It is only at this point that the choreography comes electrically alive with frantic rocking of empty arms portraying the descent into madness, and particularly expressive anguish from Thomas J. Baylis culminating in Jack Webb’s searing embodiment of distress – though again, since this finale is a solo, it poses the question of why not one Lady M throughout?

All three dancers are superb but this flawed production does not do them justice. It’s a case of three dancers in search of a choreographer.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

Scottish Ballet

The Secret Theatre

Traverse Theatre

Antigone, Interrupted

Festival Theatre

Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen

Royal Lyceum Theatre

An Edinburgh Christmas Carol

Festival Theatre

Rite of Spring

Dance Base

Juliet & Romeo


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Top Five Must-See Dance Shows, 2017 (Guardian). From the Herald Angel Award-winning creator of five-star Fringe hit Nijinsky's Last Jump comes a powerful new piece of dance theatre exploring the ambition, power and remorse of one of Shakespeare's most complex women. Paralleling Shakespeare’s time, a talented cast of three male dancers all play Lady Macbeth, exploring the relationship between masculinity and femininity. This co-production with Solar Bear uses British Sign Language as an integral part of the choreography, creating a unique, visceral show for all audiences. ‘A triumph' **** (Herald). ‘Fascinating' **** (Scotsman).

Most Popular See More

Witness for the Prosecution

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £37.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets