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Set in Scotland, the play dramatizes the corroding psychological and political effects
produced when the Scottish lord Macbeth, chooses evil as the way to fulfill his ambition
for power. He commits regicide to become king and then furthers his moral descent with a
reign of murderous terror to stay in power, eventually plunging the country into civil war.
In the end, he loses everything that gives meaning and purpose to his life before losing
his life itself.
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Glen Byam Shaw
Opened at Stratford-upon-Avon, June 7, 1955
Cast: Laurence Olivier (Macbeth), Vivien Leigh (Lady Macbeth), Maxine Audley (Lady Macduff), Keith Michell (Macduff), Geoffrey Bayldon (Duncan), Trader Faulkner (Malcolm), Ian Holm (Donalbain), William Devlin (Ross), James Grout (Lennox), Robert Hunter (Menteith), Gabriel Woolf (Caithness), Ralph Michael (Banquo), Paul Vieyra (Fleance), Lee Montague (Seyton), Mary Law (Weird Sisters), David King (Servant), Patrick Wymark (Porter), George Bayldon (Doctor), and Rosalind Atkinson (Gentlewoman)
Laurence Olivier about his character: She persuades him, cajoles him, bullies him and he allows himself gradually, bit by bit, to be teased into it. But he knows the result and she doesn't and it's sort of - it's the passage of two people doing that. One going up and one going down.
The Times critic "Miss Vivien Leigh appears as a small, baleful, gleaming Lady Macbeth but her looks and her voice are disconcertingly at odds." (from Anne Edwards' book)
Kenneth Tynan: Miss Vivien Leigh's Lady Macbeth is more niminy-piminy than thundery-blundery, more viper than anaconda, but still quite competent in its small way. (from Anne Edwards' book)
Actor-Author Richard Huggett: She was much better actress than she was ever given
credit for. Her Lady Macbeth was more than "just competent" as Kenneth Tynan said -
although this was high praise coming from him. It had dignity, a vocal splendor, and an
atmosphere of evil... enormously impressive to watch. Of course it was Olivier's evening.
With the balance of the two parts, how could it be otherwise? Have you ever heard of a Lady
Macbeth stealing the play from her husband? (from "Love Scene"
by J. L. Lasky & P. Silver).
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