Walking into the Pop-up Globe’s opening night presentation of Macbeth, it was obvious the audience were expecting plenty of bawdy humour and lashings of blood. While they certainly got a bit of both, overall there were missed opportunities on both fronts that proved surprising.

Stephen Lovatt and Amanda Billing. Photo © Pop-up Globe

Given that Macbethis one of Shakespeare’s shortest, most dramatically taut plays, it’s strange that this production, directed by Tom Mallaburn, is slow to take off in the first half. Whereas many would expect a slightly hectic quality from the rough and ready nature of the Pop-up Globe’s stagings, there was a noticeable absence of energy that suggested some scenes and performances needed to be more tightly directed.

Things picked up considerably once the action moved to Macbeth’s ‘pleasant seat’. The actors portraying the troubled central couple played off each other well, with Amanda Billing an effective Lady M and Stephen Lovatt a bluff, increasingly scattershot Macca. Both performances grew in stature over the evening, Billing’s tensile quality rubbing up against Lovatt’s growing nihilism. Proving the venue’s worth, the gust of wind during the former’s reading of ‘unsex me...