New production Lady M re-examines Macbeth
Mary McClusky discusses The Scottish Play's continuing relevance to modern audiences
As artistic director of Scottish Youth Theatre and a frequent contributor to Oran Mor’s Classic Cuts season, Mary McCluskey is no stranger to slimming down a Shakespeare play to its essential components. And in the year of the World Shakespeare Festival, she has stripped back The Scottish Play in this new Theatre Jezebel production. Lady M will focus purely on Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the three Weird Sisters, and aims to better explore the relationship between the leading couple.
‘I think Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are not all evil,’ McCluskey explains. ‘I read somewhere that Macbeth is so popular because the character himself is seen as an everyman, as being this loyal, true, very brave warrior who loves his wife, and he’s led astray. The Weird Sisters play on his ambition, and anybody given an opportunity to achieve greatness in that way would grab it. The audience can relate to this ordinary man put in exceptional circumstances.’
Lady M comes a year after David Greig’s lauded Dunsinane, a sequel to Macbeth. For McCluskey, the enduring appeal of the tragedy is easy to explain. ‘I think that it’s a great story,’ she says, ‘it’s epic and it’s also intimate. I suppose we’re looking at ways of putting our 21st century spin on that 16th/17th century language. And that’s the great thing about Shakespeare: the universality of the themes and the way he looks at the human condition – it’s still relevant to us as human beings living in the 21st century.’
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 25–Sat 28 Apr.