Stars turn out for Macbeth preview

The Northern Echo: Anne-Marie Duff was among the stars who attended the press night of Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios, in Westminster Anne-Marie Duff was among the stars who attended the press night of Macbeth at Trafalgar Studios, in Westminster

Stars of stage, screen and politics braved the freezing weather to attend the press night of a new West End version of Macbeth.

James McAvoy, who has appeared in hit films X Men and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, takes the lead role in one of Shakespeare's darkest plays.

Former spin doctor Alastair Campbell and actors Rafe Spall, Toby Jones and Jason Flemyng were among guests at the Trafalgar Studios on London's Whitehall.

Anne-Marie Duff, McAvoy's wife, comedian Stephen Merchant and Downton Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville also took their seats at the theatre for the opening night.

The play is director Jamie Lloyd's first in a season called Trafalgar Transformed. He said they would be "a season of politically-charged power plays on the doorstep of Whitehall", accompanied by workshops and masterclasses aimed at school groups.

The stark stage sets the scene for a war-torn Scotland of the near future, smothered by toxic fog. According to the programme notes, the play takes place after years of financial and environmental disasters in a divided United Kingdom.

Lloyd said: "It's an apposite, urgent play for today, and that's why I don't want it to be set in period. I don't want the production to be a reflection of a time long past, I want it to resonate here and now."

McAvoy, who has gone from starring in film The Last King of Scotland to the production known as "the Scottish play", was last on stage in 2009.

Three Days of Rain, at London's Apollo Theatre, was also directed by Lloyd.

Claire Foy, perhaps best known for her role in Little Dorrit, acts alongside him as Lady Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most famous female characters. The play, running until April 27, is almost sold out.

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