Set play: Macbeth

18th May 2001 at 01:00

Tim Carroll, master of play for Macbeth at the Globe, explains his role. "It's a quite different structure from a pyramid. Unlike some conceptions of a director, I'm neither guru nor father figure nor philosopher king."

For Carroll, the role implies a circle. The actors are at the centre, and he collaborates with them and the Master of Design, Master of Dance and others in a collective dramatic enterprise. But he is insistent about one central responsibility that properly belongs to the Master of Play: the storytelling.

Carroll is struck by how Macbeth seems, on the surface, to be unsuited to the Globe. "Here we have no blackout, no lighting effects or the power to create mystery through bubbling sounds, and the like. Dry ice would simply blow away in five seconds. But that is what is so exciting about the Globe. It has forced us to jettison all those gnarled and clichd responses that are evoked in a black-box theatre."nbsp;

Carroll is certain that in Jacobean times the extraordinary sophistication of Shakespeare's language and dramatic construction was matched by equally creative staging. He hopes his own production will be similarly inventive. Once again, that means avoiding over-familiar representations.

His trust in how the power of the word can liberate imagination and dramatic action is shared by his Macbeth, the remarkable Jasper Britton. Last year at the Globe, Britton's Caliban and Palamon demonstrated how actor and audience can truly bond in that unique space. But Carroll has an additional reason for casting Britton as Macbeth: "He's a great comedian."

From May 27 to September 22. Box office: 020 7401 9919

  • Picture: Tim Carroll
    • A longer version of this review appears in this week's Friday magazine

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