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Beyond good and evil;Set play;Theatre

MACBETH. West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.

Director Jude Kelly says the really interesting question about Macbeth is why the weird sisters decide to tell the prophecy. She believes they intend no harm.

Their prophecy takes Macbeth towards his ambition and he believes he has to go the rest of the way. He is tempted to change the course of fate, but fate might have made him king regardless. Macbeth does not reflect on the nature of the sisters' prophecy; he wants to ensure it is fulfilled.

The sisters are witches, but their supernatural world is not as evil as some directors believe. Indeed Kelly sees echoes of A Midsummer Night's Dream, particularly in lines spoken by Hecate, the Goddess of the witches, which resemble Oberon's speech to Puck.

Audiences cannot help feeling sympathy for Macbeth. Why?

"If you didn't know the story you would first of all think you were meeting the hero of the piece," she says. "It isn't a tragedy if people are already tyrannical psychopaths, you just want to get rid of them as soon as possible. Macbeth is courageous, you feel a commitment to him. If there were any justice in the world he would become the next king.

"Macbeth is struggling with massive drive and ambition. He seems like a man who cannot bring himself to murder. He doesn't want to act badly to get his desires."

And is Lady Macbeth, all evil?

"No, she can't be", says Kelly. "If she was already capable of evil why does she ask the spirits to make her think dark thoughts? She is ambitious for her husband, she thinks he deserves to be king."

"Part of us identifies with making a fateful decision and longing for it to be undone. There is pity for a man who will never sleep again. You admire Macbeth for his determination to survive."

Kevin Berry

From October 9 to December 4Tel: 0113 213 7700

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