EVEN without medieval castles and traditional costumes, and with an unsatisfactory dystopian future war-torn wasteland setting, this Macbeth is a largely enjoyable night of theatre.

Rufus Norris directs a cast of war weary survivors of some tribal civil war that, in Rae Smith's set, has left the environment scarred and bleak, characters clothed in whatever they can salvage and a world comprising black plastic, decaying breezeblock structures.

South Wales Argus:

The action predominantly takes place on or around a bridge of ramp like structure that the cast slide around the large stage, to be replaced with basic buildings, like a run-down military camp, rather than medieval castles. Think post-apocalyptic.

In this dark world Macbeth, played by Michael Nardone, fulfils the witches’ prophecies with the consequent murder of Banquo, played by Patrick Robinson, ultimate suicide of Lady Macbeth, played by Kirsty Besterman, and killing of our anti-hero by the caesarean-born MacDuff, played by Ross Waiton.

There is much killing, of course, with heads being cut off and displayed and shoved into carrier bags, dead babies, umbilical cords still attached and plenty of squaddie, laddish yomping and hollering.

South Wales Argus:

The Macbeth's deliver vast amounts of passion but tempered with calmly delivered dark monologues, inner thoughts, brooding doubts and fears, all against a eerie soundtrack.

Some of Macbeth’s delivery of the poetry sounds like a rough Saturday night out in the Gorbals (or perhaps rough Sunday morning) and I am not certain whether the characterisation of Malcolm, the son of murdered Duncan, was supposed to be meaningful.

We have some gender swapping which will probably cause enormous headaches for the teachers accompanying the legions of school pupils in the audience and the jolly cauldron scene has been axed. Rather, these witches clamber up and down poles, human, animal, a new degraded species, rather than stirring pots.

The overall aesthetic will not be to all tastes but it is a certainly bold, consistently grim Macbeth.

Macbeth, by National Theatre, will be at Wales Millennium Centre until March 23.

By Mike Smith.