Yukio Ninagawa's Macbeth returns to Singapore this weekend

Shakespeare's Macbeth becomes a samurai saga through the vision of the late, great Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa.

The Straits Times had a sneak peek at the Ninagawa Company's production, which runs at the Esplanade Theatre from Nov 23 to 25, a quarter-century after it first showed here.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are played by Masachika Ichimura and Yuko Tanaka. King Duncan, who Macbeth betrays, is played by Tetsuro Sagawa.

Ninagawa reworked the Scottish Play in 1980, setting it in war-torn, 16th-century Japan and creating a stage which evokes the traditional Buddhist altar present in most Japanese homes.

Two crones, not present in Shakespeare's script, open the doors of the altar before the action begins and remain on the stage as observers. The audience is thus always aware of the staged nature of the production, as well as the inexorable, inescapable whirlpool of events Macbeth is trapped by.

Ninagawa revived his Macbeth in 2015 for international stagings. He died in May last year, aged 80.


The murderous Macbeth is played by Masachika Ichimura (left) and the guilt-stricken Lady Macbeth is played by Yuko Tanaka in the Ninagawa Company's production of the Shakespearean play at the Esplanade Theatre. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


The murderous Macbeth is played by Masachika Ichimura (left) and the guilt-stricken Lady Macbeth is played by Yuko Tanaka in the Ninagawa Company's production of the Shakespearean play at the Esplanade Theatre. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


The guilt-stricken Lady Macbeth is played by Yuko Tanaka in the Ninagawa Company's production of the Shakespearean play at the Esplanade Theatre. This version of Macbeth was first staged in Singapore 25 years ago. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


Rehearsal of Yukio Ninagawa's samurai Macbeth at Esplanade Theatre on Nov 22, 2017. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


(From left to right) King Duncan (Tetsuro Sagawa) and Macbeth (Masachika Ichimura). ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


Macbeth (Masachika Ichimura) and Banquo (Kazunaga Tsuji) are 16th century samurai warriors in the Ninagawa Company's Macbeth, showing at the Esplanade Theatre from Nov 23 to 25, 2017. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


(From left to right) Lady Macbeth (Yuko Tanaka) bows to King Duncan (Tetsuro Sagawa), who will be murdered by her husband and his underling Macbeth later in the play. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


The guilt-stricken Lady Macbeth is played by Yuko Tanaka in the Ninagawa Company's production of the Shakespearean play at the Esplanade Theatre. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


The Ninagawa Company's production of the Shakespeare play shows at the Esplanade Theatre, 25 years after its first staging here.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


The three witches whose prophecies lead Macbeth to murder his overlord are played by Kyozo Nakamura, Eiichi Seike and Yamato Kamiyama.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH