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EVENING STANDARD, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1971--19 MILTON SHULMAN at the new Macbeth IN THESE days when the Bard has become almost a monopoly of the large, expert companies of the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare, it is certainly courageous of the Greenwich Theatre to atempt a produc- tion of Macbeth. Perhaps even more courageous is their decision to ask the national Press to assess such a production considering that critics are bound to compare it with the best Shakespearean companies in the world. At this point, alas, courage comes close to foolhardiness. For Ewan Hooper's production, even in its best moments, is little better than minor provincial standard. A cast not particularly equipped for getting the best out of the Bard's lines has not been helped by a production which seems to be aimed at playing Macbeth cool and contemporary like. The evil is subdued; the blood discreet; the supernatural casual. Macbeth does not sup full with horror but merely tastes it as a kind of Scottish hors d'oeuvre. Alan Dobie is so introspective and sotto voce in the early scenes that when he soliloquises: "Is this a dagger I see before --------------------------------- me?" he might have been standing in front of a bar ask- ing "Is this a lager I see before me?" He whips himself up into a more suitable frenzy in the martial moments at the tail end of the play and spoke "To- morrow and tomorrow and to- morrow" with a striking note of intelligent irony. Miss Romy Baskerville has the statuesque figure and classical features for a formid- able Lady Macbeth, but little else. All the stomping and clattering and stabbing in her bleak castle seemed just too vulgar and untidy for such an ambitious hostess. Unsexed I could never believe that such a nice girl would really want ever to be unsexed and when she took her knives to finish off Duncan's henchmen, I thought for a moment she was setting out to carve the turkey. Probably too subtle for its own good, this production idea of Ewan Hooper's needs far more thought, far better actors and more production facilities than the Greenwich Theatre is likely to provide. A more bloody, dark, glowering and horrific Macbeth would have been a safer bet.